Diverse Settings, Questions and Approaches
Edited by Karen D. Hughes and Jennifer E. Jennings
Chapter 12: Conceptualizing ‘Woman’ as an Entrepreneurial Advantage: A Reflexive Approach
Albert James INTRODUCTION Scholarly work in social inquiry has a long tradition of approaching phenomenon through the lens of problems (Hammersley and Atkinson, 2007; Harding, 1987). Business scholars have often followed this same approach. Most entrepreneurship and organizational research follows the approach of observing the world, noting problems or issues, and trying to come up with explanations for those problems. This is the approach that has also been applied in much of the ongoing women’s entrepreneurship research. An introduction into women’s entrepreneurship literature inevitably involves a baptism into the reality of the many problems, challenges and different experiences that women entrepreneurs face. It is a literature in which women entrepreneurs are often ‘portrayed as something weaker and in need of special assistance’ (Ahl, 2002: 53). Much of the women’s entrepreneurial literature focuses on the comparative differences between women-led and men-led businesses (for example, Boden and Nucci, 2000; Carter et al., 1997; Chrisman et al., 1990; Cliff et al., 2005; Fasci and Valdez, 1998; Gupta et al., 2009; Marlow and Patton, 2005; Watson and Robinson, 2003). In this work, a problem-based focus emphasizes the nature, causes and consequences of why women-led businesses do comparatively worse than men-led businesses. In this chapter I propose that the result of this focus is that there is a significant body of knowledge about the problems of women entrepreneurs, but little understanding of successful women entrepreneurs. 226 M2818 - HUGHES 9780849804622 PRINT.indd 226 13/12/2011 16:59 Conceptualizing ‘woman’ as an entrepreneurial advantage 227 WOMEN’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP RESEARCH:...
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