The Invisible Racialized Minority Entrepreneur: Using White Solipsism to Explain the White Space

Journal of Business Ethics 188 (3):397-418 (2022)
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Abstract

Few studies in the business ethics literature explore marginalized populations, such as the racially minoritized entrepreneur. This absence is an ethical issue for the business academy as it limits the advancement of racial epistemologies. This study explores how this exclusionary space emerges within the academy by identifying white solipsistic behavior, an ‘othering’ of minoritized populations. Using a multi-method approach, we find the business literature homogenizes the racially minoritized business owner regardless of race/ethnic origin and categorizes them as lacking in comparison to White entrepreneurs. A critical discourse analysis of university entrepreneurship website language and images reveals that the racially minoritized are presented as the outgroup. The language used to describe entrepreneurs was found to be predominantly agentic, building a hegemonic categorization of White men dominating entrepreneurship. Troublingly, but consistent with the literature review, when racialized minorities were present in images, we found them to be marginalized. Employing an experimental design to mock-up four websites featuring student entrepreneurs differing by race and gender, we ask ‘what if we make these under-represented entrepreneurs visible?’ Results show that women, and specifically racially minoritized women, have a greater impact on the entrepreneurial interests of university students compared to men. Overall, the results provide empirical evidence for white solipsism in the business academy. We call for self-reflexivity to transparentize the ‘invisible’ racially minoritized entrepreneur and fill the ‘white space’ by changing the framing and context of business research to be more inclusive.

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