Separating Myth from Reality
Chapter 10: Networking: Comparing Female- and Male-Controlled SMEs
10. 10.0 Networking: comparing femaleand male-controlled SMEs INTRODUCTION In the previous chapter I explored the relationship between networking and firm performance. Following Ibarra’s (1992) call for further empirical evidence to clarify the way men’s and women’s networks differ, the extent of these differences and the potential consequences of any such differences, this chapter has three primary objectives: first, to determine whether there are any systematic networking differences between male and female SME owners; second, to investigate the association between networking and firm performance for male- and female-controlled SMEs, separately; and third, to dispel the myth that female SME owners are disadvantaged as the result of having fewer network contacts. 10.1 POTENTIAL DIFFERENCES IN THE NETWORKS OF MALE AND FEMALE SME OWNERS Cromie and Birley (1992) argue that because the majority of women enter self-employment from a domestic and/or non-managerial background it is likely that their personal network contacts will not be as extensive, or well developed, as their male counterparts. Similarly, Munch, McPherson and Smith-Lovin (1997) note that housework and childrearing are extremely lonely forms of work and this isolation results in many women having limited network contacts compared to men. Even where women move directly from paid employment into self-employment, it is likely they will have fewer network contacts because females typically occupy lower level positions within the organizations they leave, compared to the typical male (Cromie and Birley 1992). Aldrich (1989) also argues that past research, and much of the literature, indicates that female entrepreneurs might not only...
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