A Research Perspective
Edited by Candida G. Brush, Anne de Bruin, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and Colette Henry
Chapter 13: Gender, Opportunity Recognition and the Role of Internal Networks
Rodney Farr-Wharton and Yvonne Brunetto INTRODUCTION While there has been research examining the differences in management practices for male and female entrepreneurs generally (see Buttner, 2001), there has been less research examining how male and female entrepreneurs use their internal employee networks to search for potential business opportunities. In recent decades there has been significant growth in the influence of female entrepreneurs on economic growth (Greene et al., 2003). Over the past three decades research has demonstrated that female entrepreneurs behave differently to male entrepreneurs in terms of strategic choice, initial resources and the investment process and growth (Greene et al., 2003). However, there is less research on the issue of gender difference in the opportunity identification and development process (Starr and Yudkin, 1996). There is reasonable evidence to suggest that there is a difference in the way males and females operate their business. For example, Martin (2001) found that female and male entrepreneurs differed in the way they engaged in organizational learning. In particular, she found that women engaged in far greater levels of communication, which is a prerequisite for facilitating organizational innovations. Further, female entrepreneurs tend to operate in a lower risk environment with less focus on pursuing high growth compared with males, suggesting that there is a gender bias in the selection of their market niche (Eddleston and Powell, 2008). Thus it is possible that there is a difference in what opportunities male and female entrepreneurs choose to exploit and therefore a difference in opportunity alertness (Greene...
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