Immigration: impacts on society & business.
We welcome the readers of the American Journal of Business to this special issue on immigration focused on North America. The immigration topic is often polarizing in the USA within the political realm. This is more evident in a presidential election year (2012), where national elections are being held in Mexico (July) and the USA (November). Immigration has returned to the forefront of the political debate in hotly contested elections, though the topic never truly recedes from public discourse in North America. Within the business community and the economy at large, the immigration topic is less polemical and addressed in a more pragmatic manner.
Crossing the land bridge from Asia at the Bearing Strait some 40,000, 20,000, or 10,000 years ago, crossing the Atlantic Ocean during the European Age of Exploration, American colonial Loyalists crossing into Canada at the conclusion of the American Revolution, Braceros crossing into the USA to help win the war effort (WWII), or economic immigrants crossing the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande yesterday, North America is a repository of human movement from across the world. We have seen this transnational movement within the recent familial backgrounds of our political leaders. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox's (President from 2000-2006) father was an American born in Cincinnati and later moved to Mexico. 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's grandfather was born in Mexico and later moved to the USA. Present-day US President Obama's father came to the USA as a student.
The onset of the third decade of the twentieth century saw borders act as initial barriers to immigrant entry in North America, especially in the USA. These barriers, oftentimes artificially drawn and superimposed upon North American non-descript geographical landscapes serve as conduits for interaction between nations. These barriers have hardened, particularly so, after the terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001. Nonetheless, North America is still, and continues to be, a land of immigrants. The special issue relates part of the contemporary immigrant experience within the business and economic framework of North America.
In this special issue
The special issue opens with Dr Charles "Chuck" Crespy, Dean of the College of Business at Central Michigan University, offering his cogent thoughts as a business school dean with special reference to immigration. The special issue concludes with a book review examining one of the most influential Latino voices in North American media--Univision's Jorge Ramos. In between, we have five academic articles.
Our lead article, "Undocumented immigration and the business of farm labor contracting in the USA," is authored by Dr Anita Alves Pena, Assistant Professor of Economics at Colorado State University. Using seasonal data from 1989 through 2006 obtained from the US Department of Labor's National Agricultural Workers Survey, Dr Pena assembled a large national data set and empirically examined "the role of labor contractors in delivering immigrant agricultural workers" to the US farm sector. Generally, Dr Pena found that those immigrant farm laborers without proper work authorization are more likely to work through a labor contractor to match their desire to work with farm-based employment. Additionally, the use of labor contractors negatively impacts worker wages regardless of work authorization status--in essence this wage reduction serves as a premium extracted for the labor contractor.
The second article, "Latino informal immigrant entrepreneurs in South Texas: opportunities and challenges for unauthorized new venture creation and persistence," by Michael J. Pisani, Professor of International Business at Central Michigan University is an invited paper. In this manuscript, Dr Pisani utilizing data collected from 2005 to 2008 in the South Texas border region benchmarks the experiences of 198 Latino informal immigrant entrepreneurs. Informal businesses engage in market exchanges outside the purview of government oversight, sometimes referred to as "off the books" transactions. Within the USA generally, approximately 10 percent of business activity is conducted informally, within South Texas informal exchanges are thought to comprise as much as 25 percent of the economy. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, Dr Pisani finds heterogeneity in work authorization and occupational choice within the continuum of informal microenterprises in South Texas. Nevertheless, work authorization status and gender condition occupational choice and new business venture creation.
As with the first two papers, the third paper in the special issue also concerns Latinos in the USA. The third paper qualitatively studies an emerging and rapidly growing media genre, the webnovela and is titled "The webnovela and immigrants in the United States" and is authored by Dr Tomas A. Lopez-Pumarejo, Associate Professor at Brooklyn College--City University of New York. Professor Lopez-Pumarejo artfully walks the reader through the emergence and creation of the webnovela with links into the telenovela and Latin American and Latino television industries. Yet, the webnovela is distinctly Latino (American) and offers retailers and manufacturers important and novel ways to reach the $900 billion/50 million consumer US Hispanic market. As such, Dr Lopez-Pumarejo positions the webnovela at the confluence of Latino entertainment and business.
Our fourth paper authored by Drs Ola Marie Smith, Roger Y.W. Tang and Paul San Miguel (all are accounting faculty from Western Michigan University) is titled "Arab American entrepreneurship in Detroit, Michigan" This qualitative paper examines the nexus between community and business in fostering entrepreneurship in the Arab-American population in Southeastern Michigan. This contribution is one of the few that describe Arab-Americans, immigration, and entrepreneurship.
The final paper, authored by Dr Luis A. Perez-Batres from Central Michigan University, is an invited paper. The piece offers a theoretical view about the unintended consequences brought by NAFTA. The author uses a classical economics view and presents the corresponding arguments in favor of regional free trade commercial agreements. The paper's main contribution lies in integrating the possibility of a "liability of localness" effect, which can negatively affect certain population of local residents, once a treaty is implemented. The paper concludes with a prescriptive suggestion and some ideas for empirical business research on the topic.
Honoring its academic tradition, the American Journal of Business sought to "translate" sound business research into the pragmatic realm for this special issue. To that end, the collection of papers not only presents the collective efforts of the authors, but clearly conveys the importance of the immigration topic and its practical implications. We trust those interested in the topic will find this issue both timely and relevant.
Michael J. Pisani and Luis A. Perez-Batres