Business in Multicultural Societies


Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives, Special issue of International Business Review; Deadline 30 Sep 2017


International Business Review

Special Issue on

Multi-disciplinary Perspectives on Business in Multicultural Societies

Edited by

  • Richard Lee, University of South Australia
  • Susan Freeman, University of South Australia
  • Erin Cavusgil, University of Michigan-Flint


Migration and refugee resettlements, particularly into Western countries, have led to a proliferation of ethnic population in the host countries. Across the globe, such as in Australia, France, Germany and the U.S., this phenomenon is gathering even faster pace as people move to seek better opportunities, refuge from conflicts, or safety from natural disasters, among other reasons. As the growth slows in Western economies, these large movements of people across borders are also due to governments’ traditional policies to bring in migrants who can respond to specific economic or labor market needs. Finally, changes in the ethnic makeup in a society may be due to higher birth rates among the minority population. Consequently, the overall increase in ethnic minority population is more culturally diverse than previously experienced in Western countries.

Yet, the growth in a diverse ethnic population is a multifaceted phenomenon that goes beyond mere variations to census demographics. This diversity not only alters a society’s cultural fabric, it also heralds profound changes to a country’s social and economic landscape. Examples of these changes are: consumer requirements, lifestyle and taste; social influences; collectivism versus individualism orientation; religious or traditional practices; small business startups and entrepreneurship; and even urbanization and the environmental implications.

Indeed, studying ethnic minority population has attracted scholars from diverse disciplines, including media, communication and sociology. Take marketing for example, research involving ethnic consumers typically focus on topics such as the effectiveness of ethnic spokesmen, symbols or languages in advertisements to target a particular ethnic group (e.g., Cui, 2001; Huang, Oppewal, & Mavondo, 2013; Pires & Stanton, 2000). The rationale is to target ethnic consumers by appealing to their distinctive cultural or ethnic self-concept (Deshpandé & Stayman, 1994; Forehand & Deshpandé, 2001). Similarly, others researchers have investigated entrepreneurship attitude among ethnic groups, and the impacts that these ethnic entrepreneurs have in the wider community, both economically and socially (Chand & Ghorbani, 2011; Phizacklea & Ram, 1995).

Specific Objectives of the Special Issue

The rise of the ethnic population within a Western society has many important implications for international business. These arise not only because of differences in consumer requirements and preferences, but also in issues such equality (or inequality) in access to business opportunities or even the restructuring of the domestic economy. In this regard, many issues remain to be fully examined and they represent new opportunities for international business researchers. This special issue aims to expand research into business practices in multicultural societies. Specifically, it attempts to address challenges by seeking theoretical and practical insights into what businesses can do to reach consumers of different ethnicity within a single market. Key topics that this special issue attempts to address include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • The changing demographic landscape requires that businesses shift from ethnic marketing that selectively targets a minority ethnic group, and rethink how they can adopt a more holistic approach to target the ethnic population in general. What business and marketing strategies are effective in reaching a multicultural population?
  • Recognizing that each country may exhibit a different makeup and growth trajectory of different ethnic groups, international businesses may face different challenges in each country. Therefore, a comparative perspective can shed light on some common grounds or highlight the differences across countries.
  • The increasing influx of a multicultural population may lead to a proliferation of small businesses catering to them. But there are wider upstream and downstream implications to many other businesses, such as those who supply goods and services to these startup businesses. Especially in a b2b context, what do businesses have to do differently to cater to these emerging requirements? To what extent does ethnic entrepreneurial businesses impact the overall economy? International businesses would also be keen to further understand how ethnic businesses have restructured the overall domestic economy.
  • There may be public policy or societal implications because some researchers have suggested that communications targeting particular ethnic groups may alienate others (Johnson & Grier, 2011; Oakenfull & Greenlee, 2005; Plaut, Garnett, Buffardi, & Sanchez-Burks, 2011). Hence, a challenge is how to achieve a win-win situation across the wider population, and yet be effective in reaching the multicultural population. Similarly, what other unintended or negative sociological effects do such ethnic business practices have on the ethnic as well as the majority population? How do different levels of acculturation of the host culture affect multicultural business strategies?

In examining these topics, this special issue aims to offer a platform for scholars from international business and other disciplines to work towards a more holistic understanding of a multicultural market. We invite contributions to this special issue that not only reflect the current state of the field, but also have the potential to stimulate and direct future research efforts. Submissions should offer theoretical and/or applied contributions. Papers may be quantitative or qualitative, with generalizability potential. Case study format is also acceptable so long as it offers learning insights into multicultural business practices. Submissions should follow the journal’s guidelines


Timeline for the Special Issue

  • Deadline for full paper submissions: 30 September 2017
  • Acceptance deadline for revised papers: 31 March 2018
  • Expected publication date of special issue: September 2018

To submit your papers, please access the journal’s submission system by using the web link:

Each paper will be sent to two to three reviewers, with relevant qualifications.

For further enquiries, please contact Richard Lee at

Guest Editors

Richard Lee (richard.lee@unisa,, Associate Professor of Marketing, University of South Australia, Australia.

Susan Freeman (, Professor of International Business, University of South Australia, Australia.

Erin Cavusgil (, Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Michigan-Flint.

The link to this special issue is


Chand, M., & Ghorbani, M. (2011). National culture, networks and ethnic entrepreneurship: A comparison of the Indian and Chinese immigrants in the US. International Business Review, 20(6), 593-606. doi:

Cui, G. (2001). Marketing to Ethnic Minority Consumers: A Historical Journey (1932-1997). Journal of macromarketing, 21(1), 23-31. doi:10.1177/0276146701211003

Deshpandé, R., & Stayman, D. M. (1994). A Tale of Two Cities: Distinctiveness Theory and Advertising Effectiveness. Journal of Marketing Research, 31(1), 57-64.

Forehand, M. R., & Deshpandé, R. (2001). What We See Makes Us Who We Are: Priming Ethnic Self-Awareness and Advertising Response. Journal of Marketing Research, 38(3), 336-348.

Huang, Y., Oppewal, H., & Mavondo, F. (2013). The influence of ethnic attributes on ethnic consumer choice of service outlet. European Journal of Marketing, 47(5/6), 877-898. doi:10.1108/03090561311306930

Johnson, G. D., & Grier, S. A. (2011). Targeting without alienating: Multicultural advertising and the subtleties of targeted advertising. International Journal of Advertising, 30(2), 233-258.

Oakenfull, G. K., & Greenlee, T. B. (2005). Queer eye for a gay guy: Using market-specific symbols in advertising to attract gay consumers without alienating the mainstream. Psychology & Marketing, 22(5), 421-439.

Phizacklea, A., & Ram, M. (1995). Ethnic entrepreneurship in comparative perspective. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 1(1), 48-58. doi:10.1108/13552559510079760

Pires, G., & Stanton, J. (2000). Marketing services to ethnic consumers in culturally diverse markets: issues and implications. Journal of Services Marketing, 14(7), 607-618. doi:10.1108/08876040010352772

Plaut, V. C., Garnett, F. G., Buffardi, L. E., & Sanchez-Burks, J. (2011). “What about me?” Perceptions of exclusion and Whites’ reactions to multiculturalism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(2), 337.

These references may also be relevant to this special issue:

Aziz, Rahimah Abdul (2012). New Economic Policy and the Malaysian Multiethnic Middle Class. Asian Ethnicity, 13(1), 29-46.

Balabanis, G., Diamantopoulos, A., Mueller, R. D., & Melewar, T. C. (2001). The Impact of Nationalism, Patriotism and Internationalism on Consumer Ethnocentric Tendencies. Journal of International Business Studies, 32(1), 157-175.

Batnitzky, Adina, McDowell, L. & Dyer, S. (2008). A Middle-Class Global Mobility? The Working Lives of Indian Men in a West London Hotel. Global Networks, 8(1), 51-70.

Burton, D. (2005). New Course Development in Multicultural Marketing. Journal of Marketing Education, 27(2), 151-162.

Castles, S., Collins, J., Gibson, K., Tait, D., & Alcorso, C. (1991), The global milkbar and the local sweatshop: Ethnic small business and the economic restructuring of Sydney, Centre for Multicultural Studies Working Papers, University of Wollongong, available online, date accessed 30 October 2016.

Cleveland, M., Rojas-Méndez, J. I., Laroche, M., & Papadopoulos, N. (2016). Identity, culture, dispositions and behavior: A cross-national examination of globalization and culture change. Journal of Business Research, 69(3), 1090-1102.

Demangeot, C., Broderick, A. J., & Craig, C. S. (2015). Multicultural marketplaces: New territory for international marketing and consumer research. International Marketing Review, 32(2), 118-140.

Grier, S. A., Brumbaugh, A. M., & Thornton, C. G. (2006). Crossover Dreams: Consumer Responses to Ethnic-Oriented Products. Journal of Marketing, 70(2), 35-51.

Ilhan-Nas, T., Sahin, K., & Cilingir, Z. (2011). International ethnic entrepreneurship: Antecedents, outcomes and environmental context. International Business Review, 20(6), 614-626.

Jamal, A. (2003). Marketing in a multicultural world: The interplay of marketing, ethnicity and consumption. European Journal of Marketing, 37(11/12), 1599-1620.

Li, P. (1993). Chinese Investment and Business in Canada: Ethnic Entrepreneurship Reconsidered. Pacific Affairs, 66(2), 219-243.

Puck, J. F., Rogers, H., & Mohr, A. T. (2013). Flying under the radar: Foreign firm visibility and the efficacy of political strategies in emerging economies. International Business Review, 22(6), 1021-1033.