Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal (Print ISSN: 1087-9595; Online ISSN: 1528-2686)

Research Article: 2019 Vol: 25 Issue: 4

Emotional Intelligence and Success of Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses in South Africa

Olawale Fatoki, University of Limpopo

Abstract

The study examined the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and the success of immigrant-owned small businesses in South Africa. Organisational and personal criteria were used to measure success. The study utilised the quantitative research approach and the crosssectional survey method was used for data collection in a survey. The self-administered questionnaire method was used to collect data from the participants. Convenience and snowball methods were used for sampling. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation and regression analysis were used for data analysis. The Cronbach’s alpha was used as the measure of reliability. Based on data collected from 175 immigrant-owned small businesses, the findings indicated a significant positive relationship between EI and organisational and personal success. Practically, the study suggested recommendations that can improve EI by immigrant-owned small businesses.

Keywords

Immigrant, Small Business, Emotional Intelligence, Success, South Africa.

Introduction

Small and medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) play a significant role in the economies of many countries. SMMEs contribute approximately 40% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 60% of total employment of developing countries. In South Africa, SMMEs makes up 91% of all formalised businesses and account for about 34% of GDP and 60% of all employment (World Bank, 2018; Banking Association of South Africa, 2018). The small business space in many countries including South Africa consists of both native and immigrant entrepreneurs. A native entrepreneur is an individual that was born in a country and starts business in that country. An immigrant entrepreneur is an individual that was born in another country, relocates and starts a business in the host country (Osorio et al., 2015; Omisakin, 2017). A vibrant and sustainable migrant entrepreneur sector is important to employment creation and economic growth of a host country. Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to the development of South Africa by providing jobs for both natives and immigrants and by participating in the supply chain (Kalitanyi & Visser, 2010; European Economic and Social Committee, 2012; Tengeh & Nkem, 2017).

Immigrant entrepreneurs face many challenges that negatively impact on their performance. These include crime, xenophobia and aggressive competition from native small business owners. Other impediments affecting immigrant entrepreneurs are inaccessibility to formal debt and equity markets due to lack of credit history and collateral security, poor financial management skills, lack of knowledge of the local language, which restricts effective communication with customers (Asoba, 2014; Ngota et al., 2018).

Palzelt & Shepherd (2011) point out that substantial literature exists about the positive emotional outcomes of entrepreneurship such as happiness, excitement, satisfaction, independence and passion. These studies provide considerable information of positive emotions but do not really explain the negative emotions experienced by the self-employed. Evidence suggests that self-employment can be associated with many negative emotions. High levels of risk-taking, responsibility, required work effort and income and job uncertainty can lead to significant negative emotions such as loneliness, anxiety, fear and mental strain. Entrepreneurship can lead to work-family conflict and stress with negative impact on the entrepreneur’s quality of life. The associated job demands associated with immigrant entrepreneurship such as long working hours can be very stressful. This can negatively affect the performance of immigrant entrepreneurs (Lin & Tao, 2012; Padovez-Cualheta et al., 2019).

A stream of research on the success of entrepreneurial ventures relates to the impact of affect (feelings and emotions) and how emotions can positively affect entrepreneurial creativity, opportunity recognition and success. Positive motions may influence an entrepreneur’s ability to deal effectively with business challenges and turn previous experiences into present solutions through heuristic processing (Baron, 2008; Boren 2010). Multiple intelligences are needed for leadership and successful business owners are required to have more than just high intelligence quotient (IQ). Intelligence is a multidimensional construct that includes rational and logic based verbal and quantitative intelligence, cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence (Alon & Higgins, 2005; Fakhreldin, 2017). Entrepreneurial success can be influenced by cognitive abilities and social skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management (Wong & Law 2002; Baron & Markman, 2003). Many of these skills are encompassed in emotional intelligence (EI). According to McLaughlin (2012), EI includes skills that can lead to the appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in other people, the effective regulation of such emotion in oneself and others and its use to motivate and achieve goals. Individuals with high EI can estimate and manage their own emotions, control their work environment through their feelings and are motivated to take entrepreneurial actions. EI positively affect social and entrepreneurial actions such as leadership, exploitation of opportunities, negotiation, obtaining resources and stress and customer management. EI leads to positive outcomes such as job performance, organisational citizenship behaviour and change, social relations, physical and mental wellbeing and job and life satisfaction, (Brundin et al., 2008; Groves et al., 2008; Zampetakis & Kafetsios, 2010; Mortan et al., 2014; Hamidianpour et al., 2015).

The aim of the study is to investigate the effect of EI on the success of immigrant-owned businesses. Entrepreneurial success is not only about firm or organisational achievement but also personal accomplishment. Choosing only firm performance is restrictive and the inclusion of personal success indicators demonstrates the acknowledgement of the relationship between the entrepreneur and their business (Chong, 2008; Gerba, 2016). The study will make a contribution to the knowledge on EI and the success of immigrant-owned small businesses at organisational and personal levels. First, there is a scarcity of empirical studies on EI and performance from the perspective of immigrant entrepreneurs (Fertala, 2009; Agbim, 2018). Second, while there is a considerable amount of empirical evidence on EI in large firms, research on small businesses is limited (McLaughlin, 2012; Mortan et al., 2014). Third, extant research on EI and performance has focused primarily on organisational performance. Entrepreneur’s personal performance has received little empirical attention and has often been marginalised in EI research. The use of the both organisational and personal indicators gives a more comprehensive measure of success. Fourth, the findings of empirical studies on the relationship between EI and firm performance are inconclusive (Mahmood et al., 2012; Yitshaki, 2012; Oriarewo et al., 2019). The findings of this study will provide an understanding of how EI can affect the performance of immigrant-owned small businesses in South Africa. Successful immigrant entrepreneurship can help to reduce unemployment and improve economic growth of South Africa. Changing trends and drastic changes in recent times have shifted immigrant entrepreneurship into a more multifaceted and diverse phenomenon. Immigrant-owned businesses have become integrated into the local economy in many countries. In addition, highly skilled immigrants in host countries are proactively engaging with people in their home countries to engage in entrepreneurial opportunities. Immigrant entrepreneurship is more transnational than ever before with benefits for both home and host countries (Nazareno et al., 2019). The study will proceed as follows: the meaning of EI as well the development of hypotheses will be discussed in section two. Section three will focus on the methodological design of the empirical study. The results of the empirical study are presented in section four. This will be followed by discussion in section five and conclusion in section six.

Literature Review

Definition of Small Business in South Africa

The National Small Business Act of 1996, as revised in 2019, defines a small business as “A separate distinct entity including cooperative enterprises and non-governmental organisations managed by one owner or more, including branches or subsidiaries if any is predominately carried out in any sector or subsector of the economy mentioned in the schedule of size standards”. There are three enterprise classes for small businesses in South Africa. These are micro, small and medium. The quantitative definition focuses on the number of employees and total annual turnover (Government Gazette, 2019). Table 1 depicts the definition of SMMEs in the retail sector in South Africa.

Table 1 Definition of Small and Medium and Micro Enterprises in South Africa
Size or class of enterprise Total full-time paid employees Total annual turnover
Micro 0-10 Less or equal to R7.5m
Small 11-50 Less or equal to R25m
Medium 51-250 Less or equal to R80m

The number of employees is one of the indicators that is used to classify SMMEs in South Africa. Quantitatively, an immigrant-owned micro enterprise in the retail sector will have between 0 and 10 employees, small enterprise between 11 and 50 employees, and medium enterprise between 51 and 250 employees (Government Gazette, 2019).

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

The term EI comes from the combination of the words “Emotion” and “Intelligence”. Gross (1998) defines emotion as “Adaptive behavioral and physiological response tendencies that are called forth directly by evolutionarily significant situations” Intelligence can be described as the combined capacity of an individual to think in a rational way, act in a purposeful manner and deal in an effective way with the environment (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Despite the increasing interest in EI by academics and industry practitioners, the term does not have a universally acceptable definition (Zampetakis et al., 2009; Cuéllar-Molina et al., 2019). The beginning of EI can be linked to social intelligence by Thorndike (1920). Social intelligence is described as the ability to understand and manage individuals (men/women, boys/girl) to act in a wise manner in human relationships. Gardner (1983) in his work on multiple intelligence explained that social intelligence has two aspects. These are interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. The knowledge of an individual’s own feelings, range of emotions and the use of these emotions to guide one’s behaviour can be referred to as intrapersonal intelligence. Interpersonal intelligence focuses on the capacity to notice the emotion of others. The paper by Salovey & Mayer (1990) was one of the earliest to focus on EI. The authors defined EI as “The subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). This is one of the most accepted definitions of EI and relates to the ability of individuals to recognise their own feelings and those of others, to manage emotions in oneself and in relationship with other people. Goleman (1995) following the definition by Salovey & Mayer (1990) describe EI as abilities that include self-awareness, managing emotions, motivating oneself, empathy and handling relationships. Mayer & Salovey (1997) in an extension of their earlier definition describe EI as interrelated skills that focus on “The ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth” (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). According to Mayer & Salovey (1997), EI can be conceptualised into four distinct dimensions. These are (1) Appraisal and expression of emotion in self: This focuses on the ability of an individual to understanding their deep emotions and the ability to express these emotions naturally (2) Appraisal and recognition of emotion in others: This relates to the ability of individuals to perceive and understand the emotions of other people that are around them. (3) Regulation of emotion in self: This focuses on the ability of individuals to regulate their emotions and thus be able to manage stress and (4) Use of emotion to facilitate performance: This relates to the ability of individuals to use their emotions constructively to achieve goals and enhance performance.

Entrepreneurial Success

Fisher et al. (2014) point out that entrepreneurial success (ES) as a construct does not have a clear definition despite the fact that society generally benefits from successful entrepreneurship. ES is mainly used to denote achievement at the firm or organisational level. However, there is an increasing tendency to include the effect of entrepreneurial activity on the entrepreneur. Therefore, both firm and personal factors can be used to measure ES. Performance indicators are frequently used to measure ES. According to Makhbul & Hasun (2011), ES can be defined through tangible elements such as firm growth, profitability, turnover, personal wealth creation and sustainability. ES is associated with the continuation of a business while entrepreneurial failure is related to the cessation of trade. A successful business is a venture that has been in operation for a minimum of three years.

Angel et al. (2018) argue that despite the very individual nature of entrepreneurship, research has tended to use firm level factors such as growth in profit, sales and employees to measure success. However, not all entrepreneurs are growth oriented. Research on individual measures of success remains scarce and two of the most common measures of what success means to the individual entrepreneur are personal satisfaction and work life balance. Other measures of success are customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and community impact. Firm performance and growth reflect the longevity and wealth generation of a firm. Customer and employee satisfaction are two dimensions of satisfied stakeholders. Personal satisfaction is one of the key measures of ES because happiness and satisfaction are key outcomes of entrepreneurship. Social responsibility and community impact focus on social and environmental achievements of the firm (Fisher et al., 2014; Wach et al., 2016; Zhou & Bojica, 2017). Oriarewo et al. (2014) contend that most small ventures are private organisations without any obligation to disclose performance information. Therefore, objective measures of success are often unavailable or business owners are unwilling to share this information with outsiders. Because of this limitation, financial performance is measured both objectively and subjectively. Objective measurement is normally examined by analysing quantitative figures from financial statements while subjective performance is assessed in terms of personal beliefs, importance or satisfaction with several performance measures (Zulkiffli, 2014).

Emotional Intelligence and Entrepreneurial Success

EI and organisational success: EI can impact on organisational success through effective job performance. EI promotes productivity and creativity. Workplaces need individuals that can emotionally cope with the demands of daily life and the changing business environment. EI training boosts employee productivity and results in better evaluation by management (Hosseinian et al., 2008; Mohamad & Jais, 2016; Pekaar et al., 2017). EI abilities are important in negotiations and in attracting and handling customers, employees, suppliers and partners (Boren, 2010; Ezzi et al., 2016; Cuéllar-Molina et al., 2019). The difference in productivity between employees with low EI and high EI is 20 times and EI based selection assessment leads to increased retention of employees and improved sales (Poskey, 2011). Positive emotions improve opportunity recognition and entrepreneurial creativity. Entrepreneurs with passion-positive intense feelings about their ventures, tend to be more successful than those that do not display positive emotions (Baron, 2008; Oriarewo et al., 2014). EI improves communication skills, negotiating skills, team work, decision-making skills and networking and social skills (Dangmei, 2016). The findings of the study by Oriarewo et al. (2014) show that the four dimensions of EI (self-emotional appraisal, others’ emotional appraisal, regulation of emotions and use of emotions) are significantly related to entrepreneurial performance. The findings are similar to the results obtained by Naseer et al. (2011) that the dimensions of EI positively impact on team performance. EI can also affect firm performance through innovation. EI helps in promoting creativity and innovativeness in an organisation with positive impact on entrepreneurial success (Zampetakis et al., 2009). The findings of the studies by Ngak & Salleh (2015); Ezzi et al. (2016) indicate a positive and significant relation between EI and financial performance. Khatoon (2013) find a positive relationship between the EI of the entrepreneur and business growth as measured by turnover. Fertala (2009) in a study done in Austria find that the EI of new immigrant entrepreneurs is positively associated with the volume of sales. There is a positive correlation between EI and entrepreneurial success of Lebanese family entrepreneurs in Nigeria (Agbim, 2018).

Empirical findings about the relationship between EI and firm performance are not conclusive. Mahmood et al. (2012) report a weak relationship between the dimensions of EI and entrepreneurial performance. Yitshaki (2012) finds that the EI of entrepreneurs does not significantly affect business growth. However, emotionally intelligent business owners build a good work environment and create a climate of trust with stakeholders. This enhances productivity, sales and profit with positive impact on performance (Ezzi et al., 2016). Thus EI is expected to positively affect performance at the firm (organisational level). Consequently, it is hypothesised that (H1): EI will be positively associated with the success of immigrant-owned businesses.

EI and personal success: EI improves social and interpersonal relationship in the workplace. Individuals with high levels of EI are better able to cultivate positive personal interactions. This helps to boost personal morale, the morale of others, and leads to the feelings of personal success and job satisfaction (Kafetsios & Zampetakis, 2008). Çekmecelioğlu et al. (2012) in a study of call centre employees in Turkey find a significant positive relationship between EI and internal job satisfaction. Individuals with high EI are generally active in focusing their emotions toward positive outcomes (George, 2000; Butler et al., 2003). EI is negatively related to burnout and positively related to job satisfaction of nurses and public sector employees. This suggests that EI not only positively impacts on managers and owners but also the employees of an organisation (Lee, 2017; Tagoe & Quarshie, 2017).). The lives of individuals with high EI are safer, happier and more productive (Wong and Law, 2002; Brundin et al., 2008; Groves et al., 2008; Boren 2010). Zhou & Bojica (2017) point out that entrepreneurs with higher EI are likely to hold different performance expectations with respect to their entrepreneurial activities and rely on different priorities compared to those with lower EI. Positive emotions may influence the ability of an immigrant entrepreneur to deal effectively with the persistent stress of business ownership. This can positively affect social relations, physical and mental wellbeing and job and life satisfaction of immigrant entrepreneurs. Consequently, it is hypothesised that (H2): EI will be positively associated with the personal success of immigrant entrepreneurs.

Research Methodology

The study used the quantitative research approach and data was collected through the use of self-administered questionnaires. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in the Central Business Districts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province of South Africa. The areas were used for the survey because they contain a large number of immigrant-owned small businesses. There is no available population frame of immigrant-owned small businesses in the study areas. This made it difficult to employ probability sampling approaches in selecting the study participants Therefore, convenience and the snowball sampling methods were used to identify the participants in the survey. All the participants of this study were in the retail business, were African immigrants with legal residency in South Africa. Examining participants from similar line of business helped to control the effect of industry or sector. A pilot study was conducted on the survey instrument used in this research with thirty immigrant small business owners in order to ensure face and content validity. Owners were assured of confidentiality and anonymity. Thus, the names, addresses, emails and phone numbers of the participants were not included in the questionnaire. All the participants signed the informed consent form. The questionnaire was divided into three parts (1) biographical information (2) EI and (3) success. The Cronbach’s alpha was used as a measure of reliability. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation and regression analysis.

Measures

Emotional intelligence (EI): Emotional intelligence (EI) was measured by the sixteen-item Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS) (Wong & Law, 2002). The questionnaire was chosen due to its brevity and its sound psychometric property. According to Wong & Law (2002), Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the four dimensions of EI were self-emotion appraisal, 0.89, uses of emotion, 0.88, regulation of emotion, 0.76 and others' emotion appraisal, 0.85. The five-point Likert scale ranging from “1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree)” was used as the response format. This study combined the four dimensions of EI to obtain a single EI score because the objective of the study is to test the effect of overall EI score on entrepreneurial success rather than the individual dimension. This approach is consistent with similar empirical studies on EI (Kim & Agrusa, 2011; Kim et al., 2012).

Organisational success: This study used financial indicators (profitability and sales growth) to measure organisational success. Zulkiffli & Perera (2011) remark that financial performance can be measured objectively or subjectively. Objective measure involves obtaining actual figures on profit and sales. Many SMEs are unwilling to provide these figures. Performance was subjectively measured using satisfaction with growth in sales and profit in the last three years. The five-point Likert scale ranging from “1 (not satisfied) to 5 (extremely satisfied)” was used as the response format. The responses to the two questions were summed to obtain the average score for financial performance.

Personal success: Four questions adopted from early empirical studies (Zhou & Bojica (2017; Sadiku-Dushi et al., 2019) and anchored on the five point Likert scale (1= strongly disagree, 5= strongly agree) were used to measure personal success. The four items are: “(1) My personal financial situation is satisfactory (2) Since, I started my business, my standard of living has improved (3) since I started my business, my status in the society has improved I do only that which I want to do in life and business and (4) I have achieved the business goals that I set out to achieve”. The responses to the four questions were summed to produce the average score for personal success.

Results

Biographical Details

450 questionnaires were distributed to immigrant entrepreneurs and 175 questionnaires were completed and returned. The response rate was 39%. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to determine the normality of the data. The results of the test (0.137, p>0.05) assured the normality of the data. T-test and Anova results did not indicate any significant differences in the results on the basis of demographic variables. Harman’s single factor test was used to identify the presence of common method bias. The result is not significant. This suggests that the interpretation of the findings of this study would not be disturbed by substantial method bias. Therefore, the full data set of 175 responses is valid and usable for testing the hypothesised relationships in this study.

The results as depicted by Table 2 showed that the majority of the participants in the survey are male, with post matric qualifications, have been in business for between six and ten years and in the 31-40 age bracket. This study used the number of employees to classify the participating firms. The results revealed that the majority of immigrant-owned small businesses that participated in the survey employ between one and four employees and can be classified as micro businesses.

Table 2 Biographical Information of the Respondents
Biographical characteristics Frequency (N=175)
Educational qualification of owner/manager  
Matric equivalent or below 74
Post-Matric qualifications 101
Gender  
Female 61
Male 114
Age of the owner (year)  
Less than 20 3
20-30 61
31-40 98
41-50 10
Above 50 3
Age of the firm (year)  
Less than one 10
1-5 63
6-10 99
Above ten years 3
Number of employees  
No employees 48
1-4 employees 123
5-9 employees 4
10-49 employees 0
50-99 employees 0

Descriptive Statistics of EI and success

Table 3 depicts the descriptive statistics of EI, organisational and personal success. The mean-item summated score for EI is 3.70 with a standard deviation of 1.02. The mean for organisational success is 3.60 with a standard deviation of 1.05 and the mean for personal success is 4.02 with a standard deviation of 1.01. On a five-point Likert scale, a mean value below three is considered as low, three to four moderate and above four high The results indicate moderate levels of EI and organisational success but a high level of personal success. Dispersion values of the standard deviation showed that the highest value of 1.05 was for organisational success and the lowest value of 1.01 was for personal success. The Cronbach’s alpha for the EI scale is 0.81 and the alphas for the four subscales of EI ranged from 0.76 to 0.84. The Cronbach’s alphas for organisational and personal success are 0.74 and 0.77 respectively. The Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for all the constructs are greater than 0.70 indicating a good internal consistency of measures (Nunnally, 1978).

Table 3 Descriptive Statistics of EI and Success
Constructs Mean Standard deviation Cronbach’s alpha
EI 3.70 1.02 0.81
Organizational success 3.60 1.05 0.74
Personal success 4.02 1.01 0.77

Correlation and Regression Results

The assumptions of correlation and regression include normality, homoscedasticity and absence of multicollinearity. Normality was assessed by examining the normal P-P plot. The data forms a straight line along the diagonal, thus normality can be assumed. To assess homoscedasticity, the researcher created a scatterplot of standardised residuals verses and standardized predicted values. The plot shows random scatter, thus assumption is met. Multicollinearity was assessed by calculated variance inflation factors (VIFs). VIF value is 4.2 which indicates that multicollinearity can be assumed.

The relationship between EI and organisational and personal success was examined using the Pearson correlation and regression analysis. Table 4 depicts the results of the correlation. The results “R=0.76, Sig.<0.05” and “R=0.79, Sig.<0.05” indicate a significant positive correlation between EI and organisational and personal success.

Table 4 Correlation Results of EI and Success
Variables R Sig
Organisational success 0.76 0.01
Personal success 0.79 0.01

The results of the regression analysis are depicted in Tables 5 and 6. The regression results in Table 5 (R square=0.784; Beta=0.814, Sig < 0.05) indicate a significant positive relationship between EI and the organisational success of immigrant-owned businesses. The results of the regression as shown by Table 6 (R square 0.638 Beta, 0.826, Sig <0.05) indicate a significant positive relationship between EI and the personal success of immigrant entrepreneurs.

Table 5 Regression Results of EI and Organisational Success
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients T Sig.
B Std.Error Beta
Constant 108.022 3.316   1.426 0.01
Organisational success 1.128 0.0701 0.814 11.227 0.01
Table 6 Regression Result of EI and Personal Success
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients T Sig.
B Std.Error Beta
Constant 106.214 3.125   1.403 0.00
Performance 1.139 0.729 0.826 10.096 0.01

Discussion

The SMME sector creates employment and is one of the drivers of prosperity and inclusive growth in South Africa. The small business space in South Africa consists of both native and immigrant entrepreneurs. Immigrant entrepreneurs create new businesses and serve as a connecting pipe between the host country and the international markets. Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to the development of South Africa by providing jobs for both natives and immigrants and by participating in the supply chain. Evidence suggests that self-employment by immigrant entrepreneurs can be associated with negative emotions such as loneliness, anxiety, fear, stress, work-family conflict and mental strain with negative impact on performance. EI includes skills that can lead to the appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in other people, the effective regulation of such emotion in oneself and others and its use to motivate and achieve goals. The study investigated the relationship between EI and entrepreneurial success. Organisational and personal success criteria were used to measure success. Two hypotheses were proposed.

H1: EI will be positively associated with the success of immigrant-owned businesses.

H2: EI will be positively associated with the personal success of immigrant entrepreneurs.

The results of this study which is validated by a data set of one hundred and seventy five immigrant-owned small businesses showed a significant positive relationship between EI and organisational success. Hypothesis one of the study is supported. The results of this study are consistent with the findings of previous empirical studies. EI can improve job performance with positive impact on organisational success. EI abilities are important in negotiations and in attracting and handling customers, employees, suppliers and partners (Boren, 2010; Ezzi et al., 2016; Cuéllar-Molina et al., 2019). Entrepreneurs with passion-positive intense feelings about their ventures, tend to be more successful than those who do not display positive emotions (Baron, 2008; Oriarewo et al., 2014). EI improves communication skills, negotiating skills, team work, decision-making and problem solving skills, networking and social skills (Dangmei, 2016). Oriarewo et al. (2014) find that that the four dimensions of EI (self emotional appraisal, others’ emotional appraisal, regulation of emotions and use of emotions) are significantly related to entrepreneurial performance. Ngak & Salleh (2015); Ezzi et al. (2016) find a positive and significant relationship between EI and financial performance. Khatoon (2013) find a positive relationship between the EI of the entrepreneur and business growth as measured by turnover. Fertala (2009) find that the EI of new immigrant entrepreneurs is positively associated with the volume of sales. The findings also indicated a significant positive relationship between EI and the personal success of immigrant entrepreneurs. Hypothesis two of the study is supported. The results are consistent with previous empirical findings. Individuals with high levels of EI are better able to cultivate positive personal interactions. This helps to boost personal morale, the morale of others, and leads to the feelings of personal success and job satisfaction (Kafetsios & Zampetakis, 2008; Çekmecelioğlu et al., 2012).

Conclusion

Immigrant-owned small businesses in South Africa operate in a difficult and constantly changing business environment. EI includes skills that can lead to the appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in other people, the effective regulation of such emotion in oneself and others and its use to motivate and achieve goals. Individuals with high EI can estimate and manage their own emotions, control their work environment through their feelings and are motivated to take entrepreneurial actions. The main objective of this study was to examine the relationship between EI and organisational and personal success. The results indicated that EI has a significant positive relationship with success at both organisational and personal levels. The findings of the study are relevant to immigrant entrepreneurs, researchers, and governmental and non-governmental bodies that support entrepreneurship in South Africa. From a theoretical perspective, the study used a bi-dimensional measure of success at personal and organisational levels. The findings of the study contribute to the body of literature on EI and the success immigrant-owned businesses. By understanding the nature of the relationship between the two variables, the failure rate of immigrant-owned small businesses can be reduced. The findings of the study can help immigrant entrepreneurs to develop strategies to improve EI by attending training and seminars on entrepreneurship especially in the areas of EI. In addition, the findings of the study can help government bodies that support entrepreneurship in South Africa such as the Small Business Development Agency (SEDA) understand how EI can affect the success of SMMEs. This can assist these organisations in designing training programmes to improve the EI of small business owners. The study has some limitations. The survey was conducted in the Central Business Districts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Care should be exercised in generalising the findings of the study to all immigrant-owned small businesses in South Africa. The study used the convenience sampling method. The data collected may be biased and represent the views of the study participants and not the entire population. Additional studies can investigate the effect of owner’s factors (gender, age, level of education) on EI. In addition, the effect of EI on other measures of success such as customer and employee satisfaction, work life balance and social and environmental responsibility can be examined.

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