Ram, M. et al. (2000) “Currying Favor with the locals”: Balti Owners and Business Enclaves. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research 6(1).
Lem, W. (2009) Daughters, Duty and Deference in the Franco-Chinese Restaurant in D. Beriss, and David Sutton (eds.) Restaurants: the Anthropology of Where We Eat. London: Berg
Ram discusses this idea of ethnic enclaves which idealistically encompasses cultural business owners to cater to their own cultural communities’ needs. These ethnic business are the staple for cultural unity and togetherness; having immigrants working for immigrants. Also these ethnic enclaves are said to pay their employees more then and puts ode business. Realistically ethnic enclaves are spaces of extreme competitive and have harsh work practices. Policy makers can have a huge effect on these ethnic enclaves by decreasing or promoting gentrification; the restoration of run down urban areas. De-gentrification will cause high turnover of citizens, unstable business model, and increase competition while gentrification will do the exact opposite.
These ethnic businesses are heavily dependent on family labor to keep cost down and keep their competitive edge. These cultural ties are believed to keep employees honest and hardworking; employees feel an obligation to help out their family. By hiring family work practice also diminish and can become quite harsh. Ethnic enclaves also train their family members through apprenticeship where the men are given most of the praise and women are usually taken for granted.
Ram focuses on the Birmingham Balti Quarter which has a large South Asian ethnic enclave. The area is a typical run down urban center; high unemployment, high crime rate, environmental degradation, etc. there is also a high number of businesses both old and new which keeps competition at the forefront. Many restaurants moved to this Balti Quarter quite easily, policy wise, and were knew there was money to be had. All of these new businesses saturate the market and most people receive a lesser piece of the pie. Fast food chains also have a negative impact on these ethnic businesses. Policy maker are torn between protectionism, free competition, and cost and benefit analysts. Balti ethnic enclaves use family labor to keep costs down and increase trust in their employer- employee relationship. Price is also another main way in which the businesses stay competitive. Lastly, these businesses do not believe in formal training for two reasons; apprenticeship is good enough and they could have a high employee turnover.
Lem begins by describing Le Salon Imperial restaurant and the renovations that are taking place to transform the restaurant from takeout to a sit down restaurant feel. The author demonstrates how these ethnic enclaves use family labor to success at business. The author also hints at the beginning about how women are taking for granted in these businesses and actually start to accept their role. Lem then goes on to explain why immigrants left Wenzhou, China to come to France. Immigrants came to make more money and improve their life. Most of them started off working in a. Restaurant until they saved enough to open their own. France has a huge Chinese cultural enclave that is flooded with many Asian restaurants. These restaurants are gaining popularity and success mainly due to their use of family as employees to keep costs down. Chinese culture; the importance of family, patriarchy, collectivism, and hierarchy may not be the key to their success because these traits can be found in many other cultures. Network building among the Chinese diaspora offer a more complete answer to their success. These networks help new Chinese immigrants to learn about their new societies; find jobs, places to live, and learn cultural norms. The networks also offer financial backing that other cultural groups do not have and this can be a main factor to their success. Also a mixture of the networks, managing style, and cultural traits can all attribute to their success. Lastly, Lem focuses on women in the Chinese enclaves and the sacrifices they make for their families and the success of the business. Women give everything to their restaurant and family and are under appreciated.
Both articles address the idea of ethnic enclaves and how family employees are really important to the success of the restaurant. Ram does a better job than Lem is describing the external factors that affect these ethnic enclaves.
Do you think that these ethnic enclaves will survive the multinational fast food chains?
Do you think that Lem’s description of gender roles in these ethnic enclaves are over dramatized?