Precarity, Migration and Enterprise

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Department of Management, the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) and the Entrepreneurship Studies Network

The Centre for Research for Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CRÈME), Birmingham Business School Department of Management and ISBE’s Entrepreneurship Studies Network (ESN), hosted the Precarity, Migration and Enterprise workshop on 25th and 26th June. The workshop pulled together a collection of 6 papers and two key note speeches from leading academics in the field.

First up, Professor Paul Edwards from the University of Birmingham gave an excellent keynote speech on theories such as hyper precarity and liquid modernity. He spoke about trust and consent and control being two sides of the same coin.

Next Juliette Koning (Oxford Brookes University) and Michiel Verver (INST) presented their paper on Kinship and Precarity in (Migrant) Enterprise. This paper looked at kinship and precarity among Chinese immigrants in Southeast Asia. They discussed vulnerabilities that arise from the immigrants being labourers and upper class.

Professor Monder Ram then continued the session by discussing his paper Managing Regulatory Change in the Informal Economy: Small Firms and the National Living Wage. This paper looks at how small firms manage regulatory change in the informal economy. Professor Ram spoke about how small firm compliance with paying the National Living Wage and the difference between formal employees and helpers.

Finishing off the first day Natalia Vershinina, University of Birmingham and Peter Rodgers, Leicester University, discussed their paper on ‘false self‐employment: the case of Ukrainian migrants in London’s construction sector.’ They provided excellent insights into false self-employment particularly in the construction sector. They spoke about how the institutional environment pushes migrants into false self-employment.

The second day of the workshop began with another fantastic keynote speech from Professor Ed Heery (Cardiff University) on The Real Living Wage – Civil Regulation and the Employment Relationship. Professor Heery spoke about the real beneficiaries of the Real Living Wage and what the benefits to employers are when they implement it.

Following on from this, Geraint Harvey, University of Birmingham, spoke about his paper on Corrosive Self-Employment. He provided some fascinating insights on corrosive self-employment within the fitness industry. He described how Personal Trainers who are self-employed often carry out activities that would otherwise be carried out by paid employees such as cleaning equipment and providing classes whilst at the same time paying to use the facilities. Dr. Harvey’s research was recently nominated for a prize in the prestigious Work, Employment and Society journal.

Next Jocelyn Finniear and Paul White (Swansea University) presented their paper on
Unpicking Constructions of Otherness: Exploring Alterity, Sameness and Difference among Migrant Workers in South Wales. They spoke about sameness and difference in post-industrial communities and how migrant workers construct otherness.

The final presentation was from Maria Villares-Varela, University of Southampton and CREME Associate on ‘Who works in the migrant economy?  The diffuse boundaries of formal and informal work.’ Dr Villares- Varela spoke about the nature of employment of helpers and workers and how helpers are integral to firms.

The workshop provided excellent reflections on precarity, migration and enterprise and provided an opportunity to showcase some intriguing papers. Thank you to ISBE and the Department of Management, Birmingham Business School for the support!

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