Institut für Wirtschafts- und Kulturgeographie Forschung Forschungsprojekte
DiasporaLink - Evaluation and facilitation of transnational diaspora entrepreneurship (TDE) as a driver of development and wealth creation in countries of origin and residence

DiasporaLink - Evaluation and facilitation of transnational diaspora entrepreneurship (TDE) as a driver of development and wealth creation in countries of origin and residence

Leitung:  Prof. Dr. Rolf Sternberg
Team:  Prof. Dr. Rolf Sternberg, Johannes von Bloh
Jahr:  2019
Förderung:  European Commission (Horizon 2020) im Rahmen von RISE (Research and Innovation Staff Exchange) als Teil der Marie Sklodovska-Curie Actions.
Laufzeit:  2015 - 2019
Ist abgeschlossen:  ja

Summary of the overall project

DiasporaLink is a 4-year exchange program between 32 universities and research institutes representing EU, the Americas, Africa and Australia and will investigate, evaluate and facilitate transnational diaspora entrepreneurship (TDE) as driver of development and wealth creation in countries of origin and residence. The partners in DiasporaLink have together a unique possibility to have a substantial impact on a global, European and national level targeting different groups and stakeholders:

  • The international research community
  • Institutions and policy makers in the social, economic and development field
  • Diaspora organizations and communities
  • Media and press

This is underlined by the specific network of the partners

  • GEM Global Entrepreneurship Monitor
  • IMISCOE International Migration, Integration, Social Cohesion
  • International Council for Small Businesses
  • Swedish TDE network

Core tasks are:

  • Structure research on diaspora cross-border entrepreneurship in migration corridors
  • Create awareness among policy and decision makers of the potential of TDE through publications and a web-site
  • Build a IT-curricula for transnational entrepreneurship within and outside the universities
  • Build an ICT-platform for internal communication and for transnational team building

The exchange of staff is built around research in common WPs and around regular and touring workshops both internal and external. The objective is to create a global, extended university network with the mission to monitor the entrepreneurship in migration corridors, define obstacles and support the corridor stakeholders with information and tuition. Essential is close contacts with diaspora entrepreneurs and diaspora organizations are systematically approached through workshops and media, for involving diaspora organizations as active partners.

Nine Work Packages (WPs) are dedicated to establishing a solid common methodology base based on a multidisciplinary approach and from that base investigate, explore and compare different aspects of TDE in migration corridors:

WP 1: Administration and planning of the exchange program (Lead: Roskilde University)
WP 2: Dissemination (Lead: Stichting the Network University)
WP 3: Establish a methodology for evaluating and monitoring entrepreneurship in migration corridors (Lead: Leibniz Universität Hannover)
WP 4: Impact of transnational organisations (Dublin Institute of Technology)
WP 5: Impact of transnational organisations (Lead: The University of Birmingham Diaspora super-diversity
WP 6:  Drivers of circular migration (Lead: IGOT UL)
WP 7: ICT as facilitator of TDE (Lead: Stockholms Universitet)
WP 8: Influence from International and national trade regulations (Lead: Uppsala Universitet)
WP 9: Monitoring and comparing migration corridors (Lead: University of East London).

Funding dedicated to the Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography, Leibniz Universität Hannover

Six one-month secondments of the Institute's staff (to Princeton /US, Santiago de Chile (4x) and Sao Paulo /Brazil) a nd two secondments from Low-income non-EU Third Countries (from Santiago de Chile und Addis Abbeba) are funded. The Institute will also host the foreign researchers for eight additional secondments from high-income Third Countriess (University of California (4x), Yale (3x), and Princeton).

Work Package 3: Methodology for Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship (TDE) monitoring

This work package is led by Rolf Sternberg, Head of the Department of Economic and Cultural Geography at the Leibniz University of Hannover (LUH) in Germany. The overall goal of this work package is to establish a methodology for evaluating and monitoring entrepreneurship in migration corridors.

We plan to generate a mix of quantitative cross-sectional data (based upon Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Annual Adult Population survey 2016) and qualitative case-study data from various countries and/or migration corridors.

In the qualitative part we plan to focus on a small number of transnational entrepreneurs in selected countries, sub-national regions, cities or quarters of cities, where entrepreneurship is a frequent economic behaviour of in-migrated inhabitants. The migrant entrepreneurs themselves, but also related organisations and representatives of the entrepreneurship or migrant support infrastructure are potential candidates for qualitative interviews the aim of which is to get an impression how these entrepreneurial activities could be monitored and evaluated. We will do so by using adequate techniques of qualitative empirical social research.

In the quantitative part we intend to use the huge potential of GEM, the world’s largest empirical study of entrepreneurship. First, we will try to convince several GEM team leaders that they include new and additional questions in the 2016 GEM adult population survey. These questions will cover some aspects of transnational entrepreneurship, i.e. return migrants and their entrepreneurial activities in their host country and/or in their home country. While such an attempt is surely not an option for each of the about 75 GEM countries, it is an opportunity for those countries where in- and/or outmigration has been a relevant phenomenon in the past and over a sufficiently long period. Just to mention a few of them: New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Ireland, Germany, the UK, the U.S. and, more recently, some Southern European countries. Second, we plan to ask GEM partners to include some questions in the annual National Expert Survey specifically about the existence of policies aimed at encouraging or discouraging transnational entrepreneurs, and/or ask them for examples of specific policies.

The planned research has substantial potential for policy implications. While several countries develop policy measures to bring formerly out-migrated citizens back (like Portugal) and help them to start a firm, others more or less directly try to convince (some) in-migrants to return to their home countries. More empirical knowledge about the extent, the motivation for and the economic and social implications of entrepreneurship among migrants and return migrants may help to develop more evidence-based government policies both in sending countries and receiving countries.

This WP will profit from intellectual input from nine of the DiasporaLink institutions and participants. Beside Rolf Sternberg from Hanover as the responsible researcher for this working package (with an input of six personal months) Jonathan Levie (Strathclyde), Thomas Schøtt (University of Southern Denmark), both with 6 personal months each, as well as José Ernesto Amorós (Santiago de Chile, four personal months) are important researchers in this package as they have the necessary methodological competence to contribute to the tasks described above. They are also members of the GEM Consortium (or even of the GEM Board) and do thus have an intimate knowledge about the methodological aspects of this very ambitious attempt to count and empirically assess entrepreneurial activities across the globe. Furthermore David Kirby (British University in Egypt, 4 months), Alejandro Portes (Princeton University),  Ivan Light (University of California at Los Angeles) and Frederic F. Wherry (Yale University), 1 personal months each, are involved.

This working package has several tasks. Among them is the i ncorporation of the results with a summary of research needs for entrepreneurship in relation to migration corridors, based on current literature. We also intend to establish synergies with GEM Research project and identify specific data related to migrant entrepreneurs in order to obtain line-base primary data. Furthermore we will explore sources of data regarding diaspora entrepreneurs, including traditional sources such as household surveys as well as non-traditional ones such as consulates, chambers of commerce and NGO’s. It also belongs to our tasks to define research strategies in terms of methodologies to be used (quantitative, qualitative) and specific details about the instruments to be applied in each context. In doing so we consider outcomes as well as motivational factors and behavioral patterns for migrant entrepreneurs. Finally, we will propose a continuing methodological program for home and host countries of migrant entrepreneurs, to be developed by partner research institutions, detailing activities to be undertaken.

The tasks of this Working Package should be achieved with the inputs to be derived from 12 secondments. In each of these secondments the Leibniz University of Hanover and/or University of Santiago de Chile are involved.


  • Sternberg, R.; Amorós, J.E.; Elo, M.; Levie, J. (2023): Introduction: relevance of transnational diaspora entrepreneurship and the motivation and structure of the Research Handbook. In: Sternberg, R.; Elo, M.; Levie, J.; Amorós, J.E. (Eds),  Research Handbook on Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 1-16. DOI: 10.4337/9781788118699.00008
  • Sternberg, R. (2023): Germany: the relevance, extent and structure of transnational diaspora entrepreneurship. In: Sternberg, R.; Elo, M.; Levie, J.; Amorós, J.E. (Eds),  Research Handbook on Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 56-85.
  • Sternberg, R.; Levie, J.; Elo, M.; Amoros, J.E.; Solano, G. (2023): Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship: empirical findings, policy lessons and future research opportunities. In: Sternberg, R.; Elo, M.; Levie, J.; Amorós, J.E. (Eds),  Research Handbook on Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 364-395
  • von Bloh, J.; Mandakovic, V.; Apablaza, M.; Amorós, J.E.; Sternberg, R. (2020): Transnational entrepreneurs: opportunity or necessity driven? Empirical evidence from two dynamic economies from Latin America and Europe, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 46(10), 2008-2026. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2018.1559996

Wissenschaftliche Vorträge

  • Terstriep, J.; Alexandra, D.; Elo, M.; Stoewe, K.; Ruthemeier,  A.; Sternberg, R.: Migrant Entrepreneurship: Disentangling a multifaceted phenomenon on the German example. Migrant Entrepreneurship: State of the art and perspectives. Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. June 5-6, 2023.
  • Sternberg, R.: Transnational Entrepreneurship in Deutschland: Relevanz, Umfang und Befunde des aktuellen Länderberichts Deutschland des Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). Digitales Fachforum Migrantenökonomie des IQ-Netzwerks. 30.11.2021.
  • von Bloh, J.; Amorós, E.; Apablaza , M.; Mandakovic, V.; Sternberg, R.: Transnational entrepreneurs: opportunity driven enablers of entrepreneurial ecosystems? Global Conference on Economic Geography. Köln, 24.7.2018.
  • Sternberg, R.; von Bloh, J.: Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship - empirische Befunde aus international vergleichender Perspektive. 7. Fachforum Migrantenökonomie des IQ-Netzwerks. Weimar, 23.2.2017.
  • Amorós, E.; Levie, J.; von Bloh, J.: Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship (TDE) meets Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) - preliminary results of an empirical attempt to measure TDE between countries. 2nd International Conference on Migration/Diaspora Entrepreneurship. Bremen, 28.11. 2016.
  • von Bloh, J.: Measuring and monitoring of Transnational Diaspora Entrepreneurship – a research agenda., 1st International Conference on Migration and Diaspora Entrepreneurship (MDE 2015). Conference Center: House of Science, Bremen, Germany, 14-15th December, 2015.