Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Terry L. Besser


Most of what is currently known about the success of immigrant businesses was developed out of research focused on ethnic entrepreneurs embedded in cities. These entrepreneurs are able to draw on ties to co-ethnics to achieve advantages - a result of social capital. What is known about Latinos in rural new destinations suggests that they will not be able to develop these co-ethnic ties. As such, other avenues for Latino/a business success need to be found. One such avenue is membership in a business network. The same factors that make it difficult to develop social capital for these entrepreneurs (particularly cultural impediments to developing trusting relationships outside of family relations) also make membership and sustainability of a business network problematic. This dissertation proposes that trusting relationships (or social capital) can be developed through assurance from a trusted third party that others in the network can be trusted, a history of interaction between members, and a sense of "we-ness" (or, in this case, self-identification as "Latino/a"). As this sense of "we-ness" is usually based on a shared ethnicity (a requirement lacking in new destinations which are composed of Latinos from many different nations), a theory of how to develop a sense of shared identity is proposed. A multi-method analysis of qualitative, survey, and network data collected between 2003 and 2010 on a Latino/a business network in Ottumwa, Iowa, is utilized to test these predictions. Results showed that trust could be developed between Latino/a network members through a third party and a history of exchanges. While there is mixed support for the theory addressing the formation of a sense of "we-ness," self-identification as Latino/a also increased trust between network members. Further, trust was found to be related to increased perception of business benefits, increased resource exchanges, and network sustainability.


Copyright Owner

Bridget K. Welch



Date Available


File Format


File Size

212 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons