Ethnic Enterprise and Commodifying Ethnicity: Entrepreneurship, Generational Change and Indian-Owned SMEs in Malaysia

Author Name

Edmund Terence Gomez

Author Address

Faculty of Economics and Administration, University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia E.mail: Edmund Gomez


ndians, generational change, ethnic enterprise, commodifying ethnicity, Malaysia


This study grapples with two key puzzles: first, what happens when companies established as ethnic-based enterprises, including by migrants, are passed on to the second and third generation? Second, will this new generation of business owners continue to draw upon, or commodify, their ethnic identity to increase sales or create a niche for themselves in the economy? The empirical focus of this study is Malaysia, the country with one of the largest ethnic Indian populations outside of India. To provide insights into these questions, this study pays particular attention to how an ethnic enterprise functions, in terms of types of goods and services produced and its targeted market, after a new generation of owners with more class resources emerges. The evidence from this study will provide insights into the applicability of the concept of ethnic enterprise following a generational transition.  


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