Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management


Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

First Advisor

Linda S. Niehm


This study focused on innovative Latino entrepreneurs in urban and rural areas of Iowa. Recognized as bi-cultural entrepreneurs (BCEs), these immigrant Latino business owners are seizing opportunities and transforming their cultural heritage into new business ventures. These BCEs capitalize on marketplace opportunities related to their cultural background, and generate cultural-creative products and services (e.g. handcrafts, Quinceañera, festivals) to both make a living and express their cultural heritage (Ellmeier, 2003). The study investigated the potential contributions of cultural-creative industries (CCIs) such as handcrafts, food form this study and Latino BCEs to the economic and social vitality of rural and urban communities in Iowa.

Framed by Flora and Flora’s community capitals framework (2008), a qualitative research method was employed, utilizing an adapted grounded theory approach. Data was collected through interviews with twenty BCEs and four focus groups with 12 community leaders in rural and urban communities. Open and axial coding was used and a code book created to facilitate constant comparison of all cases (Zickmund, No date). The researcher then reviewed the code book to organize and reorganize emergent themes into major categories and subcategories. Based on the code book list, a taxonomy was developed to provide a better understanding of the relationship between conceptual themes and sub-themes (Bradley, Curry, & Devers, 2007). Conceptual themes and subthemes, together with the community capitals framework, were utilized to address and respond to a series of eight stated research questions.

Findings of this study demonstrated that Latino BCEs are both users and producers of community capitals, who contribute to community economic development in Iowa. The challenges that hindered Latino BCEs included lack of business training and educational programs, technology know-how, English language, business start-up assistance, and access to financial capital. Opportunities for BCEs for business and economic development included growth of customer base, develop and serve market niches, cultural interaction, and culture retention. Overall, results of this study provide important insights to enhance Latino BCE business growth and community and economic development. In addition, a micro theory that depicts the evolution and process of BCE business development and community impact was developed.


Copyright Owner

Hui Siang Tan



File Format


File Size

289 pages