The impact of culture on women entrepreneurship Essay Example
The impact of culture on women entrepreneurship Essay Example

The impact of culture on women entrepreneurship Essay Example

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  • Pages: 15 (3931 words)
  • Published: July 20, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Since the age of 13, I have been involved in business endeavors, specifically with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), both within my family businesses and in private capacities. Having a background in a business-oriented family has allowed me to gain experience in this sector. One of the main challenges faced by female entrepreneurs is cultural barriers. Despite there being numerous opportunities available for women in entrepreneurship, these opportunities are often hindered by cultural challenges. This issue is particularly prominent when comparing women's entrepreneurship in the UK and Sub-Saharan regions.

The importance of the entrepreneurship sector cannot be underestimated as it plays a significant role in socioeconomic growth and development. It creates millions of job opportunities, offers a wide range of consumer goods and services, and contributes to national prosperity and competitiveness (Zahra, 1999).

Research on entrepreneurship including women has been conducted in rec


ent years. However, there is a lack of focus on challenging traditional definitions of entrepreneurship or developing new methods for data collection (Moore 1990, p.278; Stevenson 1990, p.442; Moore and Buttner 1997). The literature acknowledges that women desire economic independence and play a significant role as female entrepreneurs in shaping the job market (Goffee ; Scase, 1985). Entrepreneurship and self-employment involve establishing or acquiring businesses. Gartner (1988) defines entrepreneurship as actions related to entrepreneurial activities rather than the identity of an entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial environment is influenced by societal factors such as culture, economy, politics, and social forces.

These factors can create threats or opportunities for entrepreneurs. However, individuals need a national culture that supports and encourages entrepreneurial activity in order to be motivated by factors such as financial rewards, achievement, social, career, and personal fulfillment

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(Berger 1991). The national culture is interconnected with a person's personalities and behaviors, companies, political/legal systems, economic conditions, and social traditions. Therefore, studying entrepreneurship from a cultural perspective is appropriate. It is also important to study women themselves and compare three levels of similarity or difference. Regardless of location, women face similar challenges in balancing the roles of working mother and wife.

This study aims to enhance our understanding of how cultural barriers impact women entrepreneurs (WEs) in sub-Saharan Africa and the U.K. We will examine societal and cultural differences, as well as variations among women themselves, their roles, and personal experiences to explore the distinct challenges faced by WEs compared to male entrepreneurs.

To address these gender-specific challenges, it is recommended that social culture focuses on two main objectives:

  • Addressing the negative impact of changing societal beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors on women entrepreneurs.
  • Improving conditions in institutional systems and environments for female entrepreneurs.

In addition, there are specific research inquiries that need attention:

  • The existing entrepreneurial literature has expanded our understanding of entrepreneurs and gender dynamics in entrepreneurship. However, it tends to primarily focus on issues in Western developed economies while neglecting those in developing ones.
  • If entrepreneurship is recognized as a crucial driver of economic growth and a fundamental element of national development, gaining a better understanding of the factors that either promote or hinder women's entrepreneurship in the U.K and sub-Saharan Africa becomes essential.

The main objective of this study is to explore when women in the U.K and sub-Saharan Africa become entrepreneurs and what cultural and environmental barriers they must overcome. In the following section, we will discuss the research

methodology used, followed by the presentation and discussion of findings that highlight how these challenges are influenced by cultural values. Keywords: women entrepreneurs, sub-Saharan Africa, U.K., cultural environment.

Research Methodology

To understand the experiences of women entrepreneurs in the U.K and sub-Saharan Africa, it is important to consider their socio-economic and cultural context. This study has an exploratory nature and involved conducting a survey in the U.K with female entrepreneurs from diverse business backgrounds. The participants included both female entrepreneurs from the U.K as well as those who migrated from Sub Saharan African countries to start businesses in the U.K.

The aim of this research is to examine and differentiate the experiences of women entrepreneurs (WEs) who run their own businesses. Data collection included gathering information from primary and secondary sources. Primary data was obtained by conducting formal interviews with a specific group of female entrepreneurs. Participants were chosen from Sub Saharan Africa, specifically Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Ugandan women, using the convenience sampling method for simplicity.

The researcher conducted sample interviews with participants to gather data for the study, due to limited time and the availability of these female entrepreneurs in the U.K. Secondary information was collected from books, journals, magazines, surveys, and newspapers. The researcher faced challenges in obtaining relevant statistical data from secondary sources, as there were issues with incompleteness, outdatedness, or missing information. This was observed even in publications from Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), banks such as Nat west, international organizations like the World Bank, UNESCO (2011), UN, and the CIA (2011), where the statistics were insufficient for the purposes of this study.

The following section discusses the relationship between gender

and entrepreneurship.

Gender and the Choice to be an Entrepreneur

The literature examines the concept of an entrepreneur, focusing on the nature and intentions of entrepreneurial activities. Thus, an entrepreneur is defined as someone who engages in a business venture and serves as an organizational leader and innovator (Gartner, 1990; 2004). In theory, entrepreneurship encompasses aspects of smallness, competition, deregulation, innovation, and risk-taking (Verheul & Thurik, 2000).

Singing the qualities historically attributed to male entrepreneurs (Green and Cohen 1995, p.299; Beggs et al.1994), Winn (2005) states that an entrepreneur is someone who actively seeks out and takes advantage of opportunities, and who possesses the resilience to overcome challenges.

In contrast, Krueger and Brazeal (1994) define entrepreneurship as a gender-neutral concept, where individuals perceive themselves as pursuing opportunities regardless of the resources available to them.

This definition aligns with Buttner and Moore's assertion (1997) that entrepreneurship is a career choice that does not discriminate based on gender.

However, in practice, the success or failure of women entrepreneurs is influenced by the interaction between gender and the surrounding environment.

According to various surveys, women entrepreneurs differ from men in their motivations, the types of external barriers they face, and the available support for women (Buttner and Moore 1997; Mattis 2004; Woldie and Adersua 2004). Cromie (1987) compares the reasons for starting businesses between women and men based on 13 different criteria. Women are less concerned with economic gain and more likely to cite child-rearing responsibilities and career dissatisfaction as reasons for starting a business. Hisrich (1989) summarizes the comparisons made between female and male business owners in terms of motivation, funding sources, occupational backgrounds, reasons for starting a business, personality traits,

background, support networks, and types of businesses. Other studies also compare the motivations of female and male entrepreneurs (Cromie 1987; Birley 1989) and management styles in women-owned and men-owned enterprises (Chaganti 1986).

According to literature, women may be influenced by various intrinsic and extrinsic factors when choosing an entrepreneurial career. The literature suggests that intrinsic factors include an individual's personality traits such as being proactive, assertive, self-governed, and positive (Akrivos et al., 2007; Mordi et al., 2010).

Female entrepreneurs prioritize work satisfaction and challenge over monetary rewards (Rosa et al, 1996). They also possess "androgynous" or masculine self-perceptions, including confidence, a sense of adventure, and risk-taking (Brodsky, 1993). Various external factors influence women's decision to start and manage a business, such as family circumstances and orientation, socio-cultural influences, the political-economic climate, and characteristics of the labor market (Ituma & Simpson, 2007). Women aspire to own and manage their businesses due to their desire for self-sufficiency, personal satisfaction, respect, greater opportunities, and flexibility compared to traditional employment (Carter 2000; Winn 2004-2005; Carter & Cannon 1992). This drive for independence and flexibility is particularly relevant for women with caregiving responsibilities who aim to balance work and non-work activities (Mordi et al., 2010).

The differences between male and female entrepreneurs can be described by factors such as socialization, orientations towards business, structural and cultural barriers faced by women, and women's unique ways of conducting and managing their own businesses (Amine ; Staub, 2009). Carter (2000) emphasizes that women are not disadvantaged in self-employment due to lack of abilities, but rather due to gendered classifications which are closely linked to cultural values, family commitments, lack of business capital, and limited access to

credit facilities (Mordi, et al., 2010). These differences highlight the impact of cultural beliefs on gender and entrepreneurship for women entrepreneurs.

Many adult female entrepreneurs face challenges in securing recognition due to perceived lack of credibility based on their gender. Studies by Moore and Buttner (1997) and Carter and Cannon (1992) have highlighted this issue. Kiggundu (2002) found that successful African entrepreneurs are predominantly male, middle-aged, married with children, and have higher education levels compared to the general population. Staub and Amine (2006) argue that women in sub-Saharan Africa are willing to become entrepreneurs if the environmental conditions are more favorable. Therefore, it is theorized that gender stereotypes can disadvantage women entrepreneurs. However, few studies have examined how cultural beliefs about gender influence the decision-making process for both men and women when starting a business (Heilman and Chen 2003).

The focal point of this survey is to highlight the importance and value of certain cultural and environmental factors pertaining to gender bearer pick reappraisal. To enhance our understanding of these factors, the following section will delve into more details about cultural motives and different types of women entrepreneurs.

Types and motivations of Women Entrepreneurs

The definition of the term entrepreneur often assumes and emphasizes a specific perspective on the nature and purpose of entrepreneurial activities. According to Goffee and Scase (1985), there are four categories of female entrepreneurs: conventional, innovative, domestic, and extremist. Goffee and Scase (1985) argue that 'Conventional' businesswomen are highly dedicated to entrepreneurship ideals as well as to conforming to traditional gender roles for women.

Adult females who understand the importance of working long hours to balance their domestic and entrepreneurial duties are aware that traditional businesswomen

effectively handle their businesses while still meeting their family responsibilities, without relying on other family members for extra help (Goffee & Scase, 1985, p.96). These women do not think it is necessary to redefine gender roles. However, "Innovative" entrepreneurs prioritize entrepreneurship principles over conforming to traditional gender roles.

According to Goffee and Scase (1985), 'domestic' businesswomen conform to traditional gender roles rather than entrepreneurship ideals. On the other hand, 'radical' owners do not adhere to either entrepreneurship ideals or traditional gender roles. This model proposed by Goffee and Scase suggests that female pioneering entrepreneurs who replicate the male work norm are more likely to be successful. By compromising with the male business world and sacrificing personal and family relationships for their ventures, these women can overcome many obstacles they face (Goffee & Scase, 1985, p.142).

Sing these types of adult females entrepreneur Birley (1989, p.37) argues that the profile of adult females entrepreneur in the future will continue to move closer to that of their male counterparts. To achieve this, adult women entrepreneurs need certain motivations to encourage them to be in business. Scholars have emphasized different motivations for entrepreneurs, notably economists Cantillon and Marx who pointed out that profit may be one motivation for entrepreneurial ventures. Additionally, entrepreneurs may be driven not only by economic motivations but also by psychological motivations such as the desire to innovate and create new products (Schumpeter, 1934). The desire to take risks and a spirit of adventure may be another motivation (Knight, 1921).

In addition, some entrepreneurs have better access to information or knowledge and want to take advantage of that (Kirzner, 1973). However, the positive evidence alone may not motivate

entrepreneurship as some individuals may have no other choice but to pursue self-employment (Basu & Altinay, 2002) (cited in London articles). Krueger and Brazeal (1994, p.101) argued that favorable environmental conditions such as support from political, social, and business leaders and a team spirit in the community effectively encourage entrepreneurship among both men and women. Social support from family and friends who provide positive role models, as well as from parents who encourage entrepreneurial aspirations during childhood, all contribute to creating positive environmental conditions favoring women's entrepreneurship. In contrast, (Mordi, et al.)

In 2010, researchers argued that a lack of access to funding and working capital is a significant deterrent for female entrepreneurs. It is evident that the motives of female entrepreneurs are influenced by gender beliefs. Therefore, this section will discuss the relationship between gender beliefs and entrepreneurship.

Gender Beliefs and Entrepreneurship

This section explores the cultural beliefs surrounding gender by examining differing perceptions of competence for women and men, as well as gender roles in entrepreneurship. Additionally, it analyzes the impact of these beliefs on women's business choices.

According to various studies (Carter and Cannon 1992; Moore and Buttner 1997; Smallbone 2000), adult females often feel that they lack credibility because of their gender when seeking support. Sociologists now see gender as a multi-level concept that includes cultural beliefs and resource distributions at the macro level, patterns of behavior at the interactive level, and roles and identities at the micro level (Ferree, Lorber, and Hess 1999; Ridgeway and Correll 2004; Risman 1998) (Reference- baud2010.SPQ.snap article). Max Weber first highlighted the influence of culture on entrepreneurship at the beginning of this century.

According to Weber (1976), Protestantism led

to a civilization that prioritized individuality, ambition, legitimization of entrepreneurial careers, reason, asceticism, and autonomy. Hoftstede (1991, p.5) defines civilization as "a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or class of people from another." Hoftstede (1991) views civilization as a social phenomenon shaped by individuals' societal environment, not their genes. In this way, he defines civilization as a collection of shared values, beliefs, and norms within a group or community. Basu, Altinay (2002) argue that these cultural values and norms will either align or clash with a society's ability to foster a strong entrepreneurial orientation. For instance, contemplating new business ventures involves confronting a significant amount of uncertainty.

Furthermore, in the development of new thoughts, entrepreneurs have to make their own decisions in setting where there are few, if any, historical trends, and relatively little direct information (Basu ; Altinay, 2002). Consequently, Hofstede in his research shows that national culture affects workplace values across a range of countries. Basu ; Altinay (2002) believe that the cultural differences arise from national, regional, cultural, social class, religious, gender, and language variations. Hence, values are considered a significant characteristic of culture and cultural uniqueness. As a result, Berger (1991) argues that any modernization in countries must incorporate cultural transformation. Therefore, entrepreneurship emerges from the "Bottom up" in which culture gives birth to entrepreneurial potential.

According to Berger (1991, p.122), civilization plays a role in directing and accelerating entrepreneurship. To better understand the impact of civilization on female entrepreneurs, it is important to look at specific cases. In the East Midlands of the United Kingdom, particularly in Nottingham and Leicester, Somali women have challenged the

dominant perception that portrays women as homemakers with limited involvement in the public sphere. A study by Hassan (2002) shows how Somali women in the UK have rejected their traditional culture, which gives husbands control over their wives. The traditional power dynamic within families, where husbands have authority over their wives, is no longer accepted in the UK.

The text discusses the change in traditional gender roles in Somalia, as narrated by a Somali woman. She states that men should learn to cook, do laundry, and change diapers, which were previously seen as female responsibilities. This shift has resulted in an increase in marital discord. However, women have embraced their new roles as decision-makers in their lives. Conversely, men seem unhappy with the unfamiliar cultural changes and struggle to adapt positively.

"They are preventing women from taking on new roles by using religion as an excuse. Men use religion as a scapegoat when they accuse women of abandoning Islam. This is the reality of our country, and we must adapt to it," stated one female interviewee (Hassan 2002). In the city of London, Ethiopian and Eritrean women have enhanced their entrepreneurial skills and have become involved in various small business activities such as restaurants and cafes. They do this to generate income for themselves, improve their standard of living, and send remittances to their families and communities back home."

Disputing the economic exclusion faced by many adult females in the Diaspora is crucial in giving them financial independence and empowerment. It is also important for challenging the patriarchal system that perpetuates male domination and allows for decision-making power at the family level. Ramachandran and Shah (1999) conducted a

study comparing indigenous African entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs of European and Indian descent in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The study found significant differences in education, networks, and business growth rates between the two groups. Entrepreneurs of European or Indian descent had better formal education and stronger business networks. Despite the progress made in developing their economies, many countries still have limited entrepreneurial activity (Berger, 1991).

Cultural Challenges of Women Entrepreneurs

The literature indicates that women-owned businesses are generally smaller in size, experience slower growth, and are less profitable compared to businesses owned by men (Fasci & Valdez, 1998; Hisrish & Brush, 1984; Kalleberg & Leicht, 1991; Rosa & Hamilton, 1994).

Buttner and Rosen (1988) also discovered that American loan officers assessed women as significantly less likely to be "successful" entrepreneurs in terms of leadership, freedom, risk-taking, preparedness for change, resilience, lack of emotionality, and low need for support when compared to men in similar roles. More generally, scholars argue that entrepreneurship involves a sense of dominance associated with notions of masculinity in modern capitalist societies (Bruni, Gherardi, and Poggio 2004; Connell 1995; Mirchandani 1999). Several theorists attempt to identify the "barriers" faced by female business owners, focusing on the social structures that reinforce gender differences. Multiple authors argue that research on women entrepreneurs is flawed in various ways.

Among the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs are: a lack of empirical focus that cannot be reversed (Gatewood, Carter, Brush, Greene, & Hart, 2003), a lack of theoretical foundation (Brush, 1992), the dismissal of structural, historical, and cultural factors (Chell & Baines, 1998; Nutek, 1996), the use of measurement instruments that are male-gendered (Moore, 1990; Stevenson, 1990),

the absence of a power position, and a lack of feminist analysis (Mirchandani, 1999; Ogbor, 2000; Reed, 1996). For instance, Loscocco et al. (1991) examine why women-owned businesses are generally less financially successful than businesses owned by men. They argue that women's lack of industry experience and family responsibilities (especially childcare) explain part of the income disparity. Other reasons include the fact that women-owned businesses are typically smaller in size and concentrated in low-paying sectors. Aldrich also identifies other barriers by studying entrepreneurial networking and observes that women tend to form larger numbers of strong ties. This excessive investment in nurturing relationships can result in business disadvantages as "a woman entrepreneur risks spending much of her time on relationship affairs instead of business ones" (1989, p.121).

In their publication from 2004, Woldie and Adersua noted that Women Entrepreneurs (WEs) face additional barriers to success due to negative societal attitudes. The prejudice against WEs is much more severe in Africa compared to developed Western nations. This is because of deeply-rooted cultural values, attitudes, practices, and the traditions of patriarchal societies that perpetuate bias. Local bias manifests through differential attitudes towards women in general and different expectations for women's societal behavior in particular. While there are other factors impeding women's entrepreneurship, societal attitudes are recognized as critical factors by Gartner (1985). Educational opportunities for girls throughout sub-Saharan Africa are severely limited, placing women at a significant disadvantage in adulthood.

Women not only struggle to enhance their own intellectual and social abilities through education, but they also face social subordination and an inability to participate in business on equal terms with men. Insufficient education leaves women ill-prepared to resist

societal pressures to adhere to traditional gender roles and expectations for division of labor. Educational deficiencies also make it challenging for women to resist pressure from their husbands and family members to conform to societal norms. In Muslim communities of sub-Saharan Africa (such as in Nigeria), it is socially unacceptable for a woman to work outside the home or have her own business. There is concern that a married woman's access to an independent source of income will disrupt traditional family roles, undermine patriarchal household relationships, and affect the power dynamics within the family, which could potentially lead to divorce and the possibility of autonomy.

Socially constructed significances can lead to the perception that a married woman working for wages outside the home is a result of a man's inability to control his wife or provide for his family without her help. Many men, fearing a loss of control, personal honor, or societal standing, refuse to allow their wives to start or operate their own businesses. Even more threatening is the social stigma that could be attached to a man if his wife is perceived to be more successful than him (Njeru and Njoka 2001). This deep societal embarrassment and dishonor of the family name are considered unbearable consequences in numerous cultures across the world, not just in Africa.

(1993) )

The studies on the societal impact of women's employment in the maquiladora mills along the US-Mexican border over the last 30 years demonstrate the potential for attitudinal change through education of both men and women. This change allows women to achieve independence and men to enjoy a more comfortable family life with their

wives contributing financially to the household (American Friends Service Committee AFSC, 2006).

In a later section on social marketing, recommendations will be provided on how to bring about a shift in attitudes towards women, work, and independent entrepreneurship. Some issues or perceived shortcomings regarding women are mentioned in articles, such as:

- Women having a psychological makeup that is potentially less entrepreneurial or different from that of men (Fagenson, 1993; Neider, 1987; Sexton & Bowman-Upton, 1990; Zapalska, 1997).
- Women having less motivation for entrepreneurship or business growth (Buttner & Moore, 1997; Fischer et al., 1993).
- Women having insufficient education or experience (Boden & Nucci, 2000).
- Women having less desire to start a business (Carter & Allen, 1997; Kourilsky & Walstad, 1998; Matthews & Moser, 1996; Scherer et al., 1993).- Bing risk-averse (Masters, 1990)
- Experiencing startup difficulties or training needs independently (Birley et al., 1987; Nelson, 1987; Pellegrino & Reece, 1982)
- Employing suboptimal or potentially "feminine" management patterns or strategies (Carter et al., 1997; Chaganti, 1986; Cuba et al., 1983; Olson & Currie, 1992; Van Auken et al., 1994)
- Making irrational decisions by relying on unqualified family members for assistance (Nelson, 1989)
- Not networking effectively (Aldrich et al.)

  • (1989; Cromie; A; Birley, 1992; Katz; A; Williams, 1997; Smeltzer; A; Fann, 1989) Perceiving other adult females as less suited for the role of entrepreneurship (Fagenson; A; Marcus, 1991)
  • Imputing loan denials to gender bias instead of flaws in the business plan (Buttner; A; Rosen, 1992)
  • The Africans we interviewed exhibit a remarkable confidence in their entrepreneurial ability.
  • Explanation of problems in women entrepreneurship

    Hisrich outlines the key problems faced by women entrepreneurs and develops a "prescription for their success" (1989, p3). These prescriptions include

    the need for women to gain experience in financial management by taking loans and managing family finances, obtain occupational experience in middle management, study engineering, science, technical or business-related subjects, learn to prioritize between organizational and family responsibilities, and develop support systems and mentors. According to Hisrich, women need to develop a "girls' network" (1989, p.280) to parallel the "old boys' network" and learn to delegate business or family duties to others when necessary. Aldrick argues that women need to increase their network diversity by adopting, like male entrepreneurs, an assertive and instrumental orientation to personal networks (1989, p.128).According to Goffee and Scase (1985, p.142), the potential for significant change in traditional gender roles rests with women who have a minimal attachment to these roles, specifically the "innovators" who are open to negotiating with male counterparts.

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