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Kerstin Ettl and Friederike Welter

Purpose - The purpose of the paper is to offer an insight into gender, context and entrepreneurial earning of women entrepreneurs in Germany. Design/methodology/approach - The paper explores entrepreneurial learning of women entrepreneurs both conceptually and empirically. Section 1 introduces a conceptual framework, which allows analysing entrepreneurial learning both from an individual gender-specific and from acontext-based perspective. Empirically, the paper explores how women entrepreneurs acquire the (business-related) knowledge to start and grow an enterprise and the impact of regional, sector, family and social as well as macro environments in this regard. Findings are based on 31 in-depths interviews with women entrepreneurs and 23 interviews with key experts. Findings - It is found that the meso environment is more of an indirect influence; the macro and micro environments are strong influences on lives and decisions of women entrepreneurs, especially on their opportunity recognition. The business environment has both a direct and indirect influence. Practical implications - The results demonstrate an ongoing need for a contemporary image of women’s entrepreneurship inGermany.Themajor challenge for policy-makers and support organizations therefore lies in propagating diverse entrepreneurial images and in incorporating the diversity of women’s entrepreneurship and their specific learning approaches into policies and support offers. Originality/value - The paper contributes a different and so far neglected perspective on entrepreneurial learning and opportunity recognition, drawing attention to the contextual influences and the embedding of cognitive processes.

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Teita Bijedić, Siegrun Brink, Kerstin Ettl, Silke Kriwoluzky and Friederike Welter

The existing data regarding gender and innovation show that women are less likely to carry out technologically based product and process innovations than men. This chapter presents some empirical evidence for Germany and proposes several conceptual explanations for these findings. With this, the chapter contributes to explaining gender-dependent differences regarding innovative behaviour based on the different contextual factors that foster and perpetuate, for example, traditional role expectations. These role expectations – among other aspects of the institutional framework (in particular with regard to tax and family policies) – have an impact on the development of various individual preferences regarding educational and professional choices and vice versa. Based on the authors’ exploratory evidence, the chapter concludes that women are not less innovative as such but that a combination of institutional constraints and traditional role models contributes to them self-selecting into female-typed professions and working structures, such as part-time work.

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Teita Bijedić, Siegrun Brink, Kerstin Ettl, Silke Kriwoluzky and Friederike Welter

Empirical studies show an under-representation of women in innovative activities across all countries; however, to date, research is only just starting to discuss gender influences on the innovativeness of persons or companies. This chapter provides an overview over the current state of knowledge on innovations of female entrepreneurs in Germany, and discusses the reasons for the empirical finding of a lower degree of innovative activities of female-led businesses. Besides an empirical focus on male-dominated sectors and on certain types of innovations, possible explanations are sector preferences of women entrepreneurs and the scope of their business activities, which in turn influences the resources at hand. We attribute these two factors to the institutional framework on the one hand and gendered individual preferences on the other hand, both of which result from the traditional role models that (implicitly or explicitly) prevail in German society. We suggest that a wider understanding of what constitutes innovation needs to be applied in German statistics and surveys, as well as support programmes in order to adequately capture the innovativeness of female entrepreneurship.