Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Women Entrepreneurs: How Important Are Their Perceptions?

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Women Entrepreneurs: How Important Are Their Perceptions?

Article excerpt


Archived transcripts of 57 women entrepreneurs were qualitatively (using content analysis) and quantitatively (using canonical correlation) analyzed. Content analysis was conducted to create nominal scales, which could be quantitatively investigated with canonical correlation analysis. The goal was to determine the relationship between women entrepreneurs' support and success from both actual and perceptual perspectives. Analysis supported research propositions suggesting women's perceptions of support have a greater effect on their success in entrepreneurial ventures than actual support, regardless of whether traditional measures or women's own perceptions of success were considered. Women's motivations toward entrepreneurship were strongly correlated with perceptions of success. Additionally, women's perceptions of success were highly correlated with their perceptions of support, suggesting that women may perceive actual or future success as a form of support. Implications for the use of research findings, is discussed.


The "radical acceleration" (Weiler & Bernasek, 2001, 85) of women entrepreneurs, and their significant contribution to the global economy, has increased public interest increasing research on their entrepreneurship (Bennett & Dann, 2000; The Independent, 2000; Malaysian Business, 2001). Women-owned firms comprise 25-33% of businesses worldwide, and in many countries the number of women-owned businesses are growing faster than the respective country's national economy (NFWBO, 1999). Bureau of Labor (1998) statistics show that women make up 50% of the US labor force, with sixty percent of all women employed outside the home (Management Review, 1997). Women earn in excess of $1 trillion annually (Walker, 1998), including an 81.2% increase in women's business receipts between 1982-1987 (Van Auken & Rittenburg, 1994). The "sharp rise in [the] number of women entrepreneurs" (35) is estimated to have risen by over 22% between 1998 and 2001, consisting of nearly 33% of all new ventures (Financial Management, 2001).

Women have been starting businesses at twice the rate of men and this trend of women-owned businesses, which increased by 57.4% between 1982 and 1987 (Van Auken & Rittenberg, 1994), led to projections that by the end of the year 2000, 66% of all business in the US would be women-owned (Van Auken & Rittenburg, 1994; Walker, 1998), reversing the majority from male-owned businesses (Bureau of US Census, 1998). The 5.4 million, women-owned businesses employed 7.1 million people and generated $818.7 billion in 1997 alone (US Bureau of Census, 2001). Women do outnumber men in self-employment in the US, UK, and Australia (Bennett & Dann, 2000; NFWBO, 2000). According to Bureau of Census data (1998) women-owned businesses increased in all sectors except in the finance industry, with the most significant increases in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as construction (94.78%), agriculture (72.99%), and wholesale trade (87.29%), although nearly half of women's businesses are in retail, leisure, and personal services industries (Financial Management, 2001). Between 1992 and 1997 women-owned businesses increased at three times the rate of all start-ups (US Bureau of Census, 2001).

However, empirical research on women entrepreneurs and constructs significant specifically to their success is fragmented at best and, therefore, deficient (Russell & Burgess, 1998; Stevenson, 1990). Investigating sociological and psychological factors unique to women--from a feminist perspective (Kilduff & Mehra, 1997)--is necessary because "there is a need to feminize the research conducted on entrepreneurs in order to include the experiences of women" (Stevenson, 1990, 439). Coviello and Jones (2004) call for "research designs that integrate postitivist with interpretivist methodologies" (485) in international entrepreneurship research for the same reasons such research in necessary in research on women entrepreneurs. …

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