Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

Major Professor

David W. Williams

Committee Members

Anne D. Smith, Timothy P. Munyon, Christian Vossler


In this dissertation, I draw on theories from sociology, economics, and economic geography, namely ethnic enclave theory, location theory, and heterolocalism theory to investigate factors that highly-educated immigrant entrepreneurs take into account when they decide where to locate their start-up. In doing so, I use an experimental method, conjoint analysis, on a sample of first-generation graduate students at the University of Tennessee to examine the factors that highly-educated aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs take into account when deciding about their start-up location. This dissertation is one of the first studies to bring theories from other disciplines to provide a more comprehensive understanding of highly-educated immigrant entrepreneurs’ start-up location decisions. Results show that location-specific costs of doing business and competition had a negative impact on the likelihood to choose a location. In addition, government support, coethnic social capital and non-coethnic social capital positively influenced the likelihood to choose a location. Furthermore, human capital partially moderated the relationship between coethnic social capital and likelihood to choose a location. Findings of this dissertation are applicable to start-up location decisions of other minority entrepreneurs in developed countries that have historically been restricted to certain areas and are increasingly on track to locate in new destinations. Furthermore, findings of this research can be applied to transnational entrepreneurs’ start-up location decisions.

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