A Research Perspective
Edited by Candida G. Brush, Anne de Bruin, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and Colette Henry
Chapter 11: Growing a High-tech Business: Gender, Perceptions and Experiences in Northern Ireland
Frances M. Hill, Claire M. Leitch and Richard T. Harrison INTRODUCTION Sexton (1997: 407) has observed that ‘growth is the very essence of entrepreneurship’; but growth may be more a matter of attitude and preference than of resources and capabilities (Davidsson, 1989) and will not occur unless the owner/manager actually desires it. The relationship between the sex of business owners and the growth of their businesses has been discussed in some detail (Chaganti and Parasuraman, 1996; Ehlers and Main, 1998; Loscocco et al., 1991). However, such discussion has been problematic for a number of reasons, not least because it has tended to treat women, and men, as homogeneous groups, leading to generalized conclusions about their perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. One such ‘stylised fact’ (Orser et al., 2005) is that women owned/led firms are less likely to seek growth than those owned/led by their male counterparts, which, among other things, has an impact on business size and hence the need for external finance. Yet, women business owners are not a homogeneous group and it is essential that research is designed to capture their heterogeneity as well as their context in terms of time and space (Ahl, 2004; Carter and Brush, 2004; Harrison and Mason, 2007). Moreover, when an attempt is made to control for variables such as the nature of businesses and the individual characteristics of business owners, such generalized conclusions may not be supported (Kalleberg and Leicht, 1991). The persistent preoccupation in the literature that men and women should be...