Two Facets of Returnees’ Entrepreneurship in Romania: Juxtaposing Business Owners and Self-Employed Return Migrants Within a Multi-Method Research Framework



Return Migration, Intra-European Migration, Entrepreneurship, Self-Employment, Multi-Method Social Research


This paper contributes to the growing literature on the diversity of return migration by analysing the different types of small-scale entrepreneurship among returnees. Data from an original survey conducted among Romanian returnees and in-depth interviews with returnees in entrepreneurship are combined to reveal distinct profiles of returnee entrepreneurs and to illustrate their specific ways of thinking about entrepreneurship and migration. Currently, Romania is one of the most fertile settings to research intra-European return migration due to its important flows of temporary international migrants. The paper highlights that there are major differences between business owners and self-employed returnees in terms of entrepreneurship. Returnees who are business owners are those who benefited significantly more from migration than non-entrepreneur returnees—in terms of economic savings, human capital accumulation, and enhancement of their stocks of social capital; while returnees in self-employment reveal no significant differences for these migration outcomes compared to non-entrepreneur returnees. The distinction between the two groups of entrepreneurs has certain implications for origin states’ policies oriented towards stimulating return migration through programmes oriented towards returnees’ entrepreneurship.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Alin Croitoru, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Center for Social Research, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
Address: Lucian Blaga St. No. 2-4, Building A, Floor. 3, Room SA3-3, 550169, Sibiu, Romania.

Anatolie Coșciug, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Center for Social Research, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu
Address: Lucian Blaga St. No. 2-4, Building A, Floor. 3, Room SA3-3, 550169, Sibiu, Romania.


Anghel, Remus Gabriel, Margit Fauser, and Paolo Boccagni (eds). 2019. Transnational Return and Social Change: Hierarchies, Identities and Ideas. London: Anthem Press.

Apsite-Berina, Elina, Madalina-Elena Manea, and Maris Berzins. 2020. “The Ambiguity of Return Migration: Prolonged Crisis and Uncertainty in the Life Strategies of Young Romanian and Latvian Returnees.” International Migration 58 (1): 61–75.

Batista, Catia, McIndoe Calder, and Pedro C. Vicente. 2017. “Return Migration, Self‐selection and Entrepreneurship.” Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 79 (5): 1–25.

Berglann, Helge, Espen R. Moen, Kunt Røed, and Jens Frederik Skogstrøm. 2009. “Entrepreneurship: Origins and Returns.” IZA Discussion Papers 4250 − Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), 1–33.

Bermudez, Anastasia, and Claudia Paraschivescu. 2021. “Diverse Ways of Thinking and Performing Return Migration: Colombians and Romanians in Europe.” International Migration, 59 (7): 177-191.

Black, Richard, Godfried Engbersen, Marek Okólski, and Cristina Panţîru (eds). 2010. A Continent Moving West?: EU Enlargement and Labour Migration from Central and Eastern Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Boros, Lajos, and Gábor Hegedűs. 2016. “European National Policies Aimed at Stimulating Return Migration.” In Return Migration and Regional Development in Europe. Mobility Against the Stream, edited by Robert Nadler, Zoltán Kovács, Birgit Glorius, and Thilo Lang, pp. 333–58. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cassarino, Jean-Pierre (ed). 2014. Reintegration and Development. Florence: European University Institute. Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

Chelcea, Liviu, and Oana Druță. 2016. “Zombie Socialism and the Rise of Neoliberalism in Post-Socialist Central and Eastern Europe.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 57 (4–5): 521–44.

Coniglio, Nicola Daniele, and Jan Brzozowski. 2016. “Migration and Development at Home: Bitter or Sweet Return? Evidence from Poland”. European Urban and Regional Studies 25 (1): 85–105.

Cosciug, Anatolie. 2019. “Religion, Return Migration and Change in an Emigration Country.” In Transnational Return and Social Change: Hierarchies, Identities and Ideas, edited by Remus Gabriel Anghel, Margit Fauser, and Paolo Boccagni, pp. 85–102. London: Anthem Press.

Croitoru, Alin. 2020. “Great Expectations: A Regional Study of Entrepreneurship Among Romanian Return Migrants.” Sage Open 10 (2): 1–18.

Croitoru, Alin. 2021a. “Stimulating return migration to Romania: a multi-method study of returnees' endorsement of entrepreneurship policies.” Journal of Contemporary European Studies. 29 (2): 264-81.

Croitoru, Alin. 2021b. “Diaspora Start-Up Programs and Creative Industries: Evidence from Romania.” Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences. 63: 5-29.

Diatta, Marie Angelique, and Ndiaga Mbow. 1999. “Releasing the Development Potential of Return Migration: The Case of Senegal.” International Migration 37 (1): 243–66.

Dun, Olivia, Natascha Klocker, and Lesley Head. 2018. “Recognising Knowledge Transfers in “Unskilled” and “Low‐skilled” International Migration: Insights from Pacific Island Seasonal Workers in Rural Australia.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 59 (3): 276–92.

Dustmann, Christian, and Oliver Kirchkamp. 2002. “The Optimal Migration Duration and Activity Choice after Remigration.” Journal of Development Economics 67 (2): 351–72.

Engbersen, Godfried, and Erik Snel. 2013. “Liquid Migration: Dynamic and Fluid Patterns of Post-Accession Migration Flows.” In Mobility in Transition. Migration Patterns after EU Enlargement, edited by Birgit Glorius, Grabowska-Lusinska, and Aimee Kuvik, pp. 21–40. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Faist, Thomas, Margit Fauser, and Eveline Reisenauer. 2013. Transnational Migration. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Favell, Adrian. 2008. “The New Face of East–West Migration in Europe.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34 (5): 701–16.

Grbich, Carol. 2013. Qualitative Data Analysis. An Introduction. London: Sage.

Gualda, Estrella, and Angeles Escriva. 2014. “Diversity in Return Migration and Its Impact on Old Age: The Expectations and Experiences of Returnees in Huelva (Spain).” International Migration 52 (5): 178–90.

Hagan, Jacqueline Maria, and Joshua Wassink. 2016. “New Skills, New Jobs: Return Migration, Skill Transfers, and Business Formation in Mexico.” Social Problems 63 (4): 513–33.

Hamdouch, Bachir, and Jackline Wahba. 2015. “Return Migration and Entrepreneurship in Morocco.” Middle East Development Journal 7 (2): 129–48.

Hawes, Derek. 2019. “Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy-Making on Migration and Integration.” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 27 (3): 385–86.

Jayawarna, Dilani, Julia Rouse, and Allan Macpherson. 2014. “Life Course Pathways to Business Start-Up.” Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 26 (3–4): 282–312.

Kelley, Donna, Slavica Singer, and Mike Herrington. 2016. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Global Report 2015/16. Wellesley: Global Entrepreneurship Research Association (GERA).

King, Russell. 2012. “Geography and Migration Studies: Retrospect and Prospect.” Population, Space and Place 18 (2): 134–53.

Klagge, Britta, and Katrin Klein-Hitpaß. 2010. “High-Skilled Return Migration and Knowledge-Based Development in Poland.” European Planning Studies 18 (10): 1631–51.

Kuschminder, Katie. 2017. Reintegration Strategies. Conceptualizing How Return Migrants Reintegrate. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lesińska, Magdalena. 2013. “The Dilemmas of Policy towards Return Migration. The Case of Poland after the EU Accession.” Central and Eastern European Migration Review 2 (1): 77–90.

Lulle, Aija, Zaiga Krisjane, and Andris Bauls,. 2019. “Diverse Return Mobilities and Evolving Identities among Returnees in Latvia.” In Transnational Return and Social Change. Social Hierarchies, Collective Identities and Cultural Capital, edited by Remus Gabriel Anghel, Margit Fauser, and Paolo Boccagni, 103–20. London: Anthem Press.

Martin, Reiner, and Dragos Radu. 2012. “Return Migration: The Experience of Eastern Europe.” International Migration 50 (6): 109-28.

McCormick, Barry, and Jackline Wahba. 2001. “Overseas Work Experience, Savings and Entrepreneurship Amongst Return Migrants to LDCs.” Scottish Journal of Political Economy 48 (2): 164–78.

Morokvasic, Mirjana. 2004. “Settled in Mobility: Engendering Post-Wall Migration in Europe.” Feminist Review, 77: 7–25.

Morosanu, Laura. 2013. “Between Fragmented Ties and Soul Friendships: The Cross-Border Social Connections of Young Romanians in London.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39 (3): 353–72.

Nedelcu, Mihaela. 2012. “Migrants New Transnational Habitus: Rethinking Migration through a Cosmopolitan Lens in the Digital Age.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 38 (9): 1339–56.

Ogbor, John O. 2000. “Mythicizing and Reification in Entrepreneurial Discourse: Ideology‐Critique of Entrepreneurial Studies.” Journal of Management Studies 37 (5): 605–35.

Østergaard, Annemarie. 2019. “The Beneficial Differentiation within Entrepreneurship of Self-Employed, Business Owner and Entrepreneur.” Industry and Higher Education 33 (1): 18–29.

Parker, Simon C. 2009. The Economics of Entrepreneurship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Piracha, Matloob, and Florin Vadean. 2010. “Return Migration and Occupational Choie: Evidence from Albania.” World Development 38 (8): 1141–55.

Puhr, Rainer, Georg Heinze, Mariana Nold, Lara Lusa, and Angelika Geroldinger. 2017. “Firth’s Logistic Regression with Rare Events: Accurate Effect Estimates and Predictions?” Statistics in Medicine 36 (14): 2302–17.

Recchi, Ettore, Adrian Favell, Fulya Apaydin, Roxana Barbulescu, Michael Braun, Irina Ciornei, Niall Cunningham, et al. 2019. Everyday Europe. Social Transnationalism in an Unsettled Continent. Bristol: Polity Press.

Sandu, Dumitru. 2010. “Modernising Romanian Society through Temporary Work Abroad.” In A Continent Moving West?: EU Enlargement and Labour Migration from Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Richard Black, Godfried Engbersen, Marek Okólski, and Cristina Panţîru, pp. 271–88. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Sandu, Dumitru. 2016. “Remittances as Home Orientation Rooted in the Lifeworlds of Immigrants.” Central and Eastern European Migration Review 5 (2): 81–98.

Sandu, Dumitru, Georgiana Toth, and Elena Tudor. 2018. “The Nexus of Motivation–Experience in the Migration Process of Young Romanians.” Population, Space and Place 24 (1): 1–16.

Schumpeter, Joseph Alois. 2008. The Theory of Economic Development. An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Seawright, Jason. 2016. Multi-Method Social Science Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Tools. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres.

Șerban, Monica. 2015. “Migration Policies from Origin Perpective in the Case of Romania. Testing a Definition.” Journal of Community Positive Practices XV (1): 72–93.

Sheller, Mimi, and John Urry. 2006. “The New Mobilities Paradigm.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 38 (2): 207–26.

Sinatti, Giulia. 2015. “Come Back, Invest, and Advance the Country: Policy Myths and Migrant Realities of Return and Development in Senegal.” In Africa’s Return Migrants: The New Developers?, edited by Lisa Åkesson and Maria Eriksson Baaz, 87–108. London: Zed Books.

Sinatti, Giulia. 2019. “Return Migration, Entrepreneurship and Development: Contrasting the Economic Growth Perspective of Senegal’s Diaspora Policy through a Migrant-Centred Approach.” African Studies 78 (4): 609–23.

Szarucki, Marek, Jan Brzozowski, and Jelena Stankevičienė. 2016. “Determinants of Self-Employment among Polish and Romanian Immigrants in Germany.” Journal of Business Economics and Management 17 (4): 598–612.

Ucbasaran, Deniz, Gry Agnete Alsos, and Paul Westhead. 2008. “Habitual Entrepreneurs.” Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship 4 (4): 309–450.

Vlase, Ionela. 2013. ‘“My Husband Is a Patriot!”: Gender and Romanian Family Return Migration from Italy.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39 (5): 741–58.

Vlase, Ionela. 2018. “Men’s Migration, Adulthood, and the Performance of Masculinities.” In Gender, Family, and Adaptation of Migrants in Europe, edited by Ionela Vlase and Bogdan Voicu, 195–225. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Vlase, Ionela, and Alin Croitoru. 2019. “Nesting Self-Employment in Education, Work and Family Trajectories of Romanian Migrant Returnees”. Current Sociology 67 (5): 778–97.

Vlase, Ionela, and Bogdan Voicu. 2018. Gender, Family, and Adaptation of Migrants in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

White, Anne. 2014. “Polish Return and Double Return Migration.” Europe-Asia Studies 66 (1): 25–49.

Williams, Allan M. 2007. “International Labour Migration and Tacit Knowledge Transactions: A Multi-Level Perspective.” Global Networks 7 (1): 29–50.



How to Cite

Croitoru, A., & Coșciug, A. (2021). Two Facets of Returnees’ Entrepreneurship in Romania: Juxtaposing Business Owners and Self-Employed Return Migrants Within a Multi-Method Research Framework. Calitatea Vieții, 32(2), 1–21. Retrieved from