Introduction and the Conceptual Framework (1) Why ethnic commercial activity occur?


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Chinese Commercial Activities in the Toronto CMA: New Development Patterns and Impacts.

  • Introduction and the Conceptual Framework (1)

  • Why ethnic commercial activity occur?

  • Demand for ethnic commercial activities results from the propensity of ethnic group members to purchase familiar brands and cultural products

  • Several labour market theories explain the engagement of ethnic minorities in business activities, such as


Introduction and the Conceptual Framework (2)

    • Blocked Mobility Thesis: due to existence of racial discrimination in the mainstream society and language barriers, ethnic minorities often have limited employment opportunities; the absence of competition from the dominant group in ethnic retailing and consumer services channels them into such entrepreneurship as a means of economic survival.
    • (Bonacich and Modell 1980; Waldinger 1986; Li 1992).


Introduction and the Conceptual Framework (3)

    • cultural division of labour: some cultures value business enterprises highly, and the transplanted cultural endowments may include ready-to-use skills that give them comparative advantages for engaging in commercial activities (Light 1984; Razin 1988; Barrett et al. 1996; Razin and Langolis 1996).
      • cultural resources (motivation, value, institutional completeness)
      • ethnic resources (kinship networks; co-ethnic workers and consumers;),


Introduction and the Conceptual Framework (4)

  • Institutional completeness:

  • while an ethnic community achieves higher levels of institutional completeness, the need of its members for integration is reduced

  • the forces of attraction of the mainstream society weakens.

  • As a result, the initial one-way absorption will gradually become a two-way acculturation, meaning that the mainstream society will at least have to learn to adapt to, if not adopt, the unconventional business practices of ethnic minorities.





Introduction and the Conceptual Framework (5

  • Difficulties of studying ethnic commercial activity:

    • No standard definition
    • Lack of data










Structural Changes

  • Restaurants and food stores declined

  • Commercial services increased

  • Now concentrate in seven categories:

    • other retailing
    • restaurant
    • household furniture/service
    • medical service
    • business service
    • personal service
    • food store








Geographical Changes

  • The former City of Toronto still has the most, but there are now more in the inner suburbs as a whole, and a significant proportion have been established in the outer suburbs.

  • Within the former City of Toronto, the majority concentrate in the three Chinatowns.

  • In the inner suburbs, there are many more in Scarborough and North York than in the other three municipalities;

  • In the outer suburbs, they concentrate in four municipalities that surround the former Metro Toronto: Markham, Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.



Changes in Physical Form, Development Strategies, and Occupancy System

  • planned shopping centers, instead of retail strips

  • Catalytic; instead of consequent and simultaneous

  • Shopping center district

  • name the new shopping malls after well-known commercial districts or buildings in Hong Kong

  • Condominium ownership



Characteristics of Shopping Centers (source: Urban Land Institute, 1983)













Impacts of the New Developments

  • Challenges to existing planning systems and legislation

  • Social impacts on mainstream society

  • Unconventional business practices transplanted from Hong Kong



The Concept of a 3-Level Hierarchy



Consultants’ Recommendations (John Winter Associate Ltd. 1994; Hemson Consulting Ltd.1995).

  • provincial condominium legislation be reformed to include regulations on retailing, and developers be required to provide financial guarantee for investors;

  • site plan applications be accompanied by floor plans showing the number and size of stores; additional advice from accredited retail/architectural consultants be taken into account in the process of site plan review and approval;

  • retail units in condominium malls should not be too small, and GLA-GFA ratio not too high;

  • inclusion of anchor stores [i.e., department stores] in large condominium malls be made mandatory, and restaurant spaces not exceed 25 per cent of the total GLA in condominium malls;

  • parking standards for commercial condominium development be raised, and the ratio of underground parking in total parking spaces should be restricted.



Two conflicting questions:

  • must ethnic minorities adapt to the business conventions of the mainstream society?

  • should the mainstream society show flexibility to accommodate innovative business practices transplanted from other cultures?


















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