Original Research

Motivational factors for engaging in dirty work entrepreneurship among a sample of African immigrant entrepreneurs in South Africa

Charles Cobbinah, Willie T. Chinyamurindi
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a1025 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.1025 | © 2018 Charles Cobbinah, Willie T. Chinyamurindi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2017 | Published: 30 October 2018

About the author(s)

Charles Cobbinah, Department of Business Management, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Department of Business Management, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


Orientation: South Africa is witnessing a large number of African immigrants coming into the country. These immigrants seek formal and informal employment. One sector favoured is ‘dirty work’ within the informal sector.

Research purpose: To investigate the immigrants’ motivational factors influencing migration and dirty work entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: Because of the dynamic nature of political and economic circumstances that affect a country’s employment options, calls have been made for empirical focus on understanding the career development processes of neglected sample groups such as immigrants and even those engaged in dirty work.

Research approach/design and method: A qualitative research approach was utilised based on the narratives and stories of 27 immigrant entrepreneurs in the informal sector engaged in dirty work careers.

Main findings: Three narratives emerged as motivating factors for migrating: (1) socio-economic issues, (2) lack of opportunities and (3) experience of a new life. Furthermore, three motivational factors led into dirty work careers: (1) challenges of breaking into formal employment because of immigration rules, (2) motivation from social networks the immigrants belong to and (3) an enterprising spirit, driven by ambition.

Practical/managerial implications: Based on the findings, interventions can be proposed to assist not only those engaged in dirty work but also migrants and citizens seeking opportunities in this sector.

Contribution/value add: This study advances the literature in dirty work research within a South African context. Further, the study gives currency to an often neglected yet important sample group in dirty work entrepreneurship, who also happen to be immigrants.


African immigrants; careers; dirty work; entrepreneurship; narratives


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Crossref Citations

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