Amish enterprise: The collective power of ethnic entrepreneurship

Donald B. Kraybill, Elizabethtown College
Steven M. Nolt, Goshen College
Erik J. Wesner, Elizabethtown College


This paper examines how Amish communities build and sustain enterprises that produce and/or sell goods to both ethnic and non-ethnic markets. Based on qualitative research including interviews with 161 Amish entrepreneurs in 23 communities in the USA, the authors develop a transformative model of ethnic community entrepreneurship. The analytical model conceptualises the dynamic interaction between three forces/agents - cultural constraints, cultural resources, entrepreneurs - and shows how they shape the character of small businesses, which, in turn, transform the ethnic community that conceived them. The results demonstrate how culture, community, and ethnic context mediate the nature, size, and function of ethnic enterprises.©2010 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.