Cross-border informal entrepreneurs across the South Texas-Northern Mexico boundary

Michael J. Pisani, Chad Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The border acts as a conduit for some, a funnel for others and as a barrier for many engaged in economic and entrepreneurial activities in South Texas (US) and Northern Mexico. Within this border zone, there are many informal entrepreneurs who actively use the border not only as a wedge against the competition, but also as a lever to gain competitive advantage. Utilizing both qualitative (600 ethnographic interviews) and quantitative (526 survey respondents) research methods, we examine informal cross-border entrepreneurs within the South Texas-Northern Mexico border corridor. Our most salient empirical results indicate: (1) the undocumented are nearly nine times more likely to be engaged in informal cross-border economic activity than US citizens and (2) those informals who possess at least one business permit to operate on either side of the border were two to three times more likely to engage in cross-border activity than those respondents without a business permit. Our ethnographic accounts provide context for our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
Number of pages17
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • South Texas
  • cross-border trade
  • informal entrepreneurs


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