Chapter 5: Women entrepreneurs in Asia: culture and the state in China and Japan
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An assumption about Asian economies is that women play more traditional roles and are not motivated to pursue entrepreneurial careers. In culture-based explanations, such as Hofstede (1980), Asian countries are often labeled as ‘masculine’ societies. The challenges that women face within systems with a gender bias (for example, discrimination by banks) are said to limit female entrepreneurs to the ‘most ambitious’ (Lituchy et al., 2003). However, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) data indicates that both the overall entrepreneurship rate and the rate for female entrepreneurs varies across countries within Asia in a pattern similar to the variation in other world regions (Kelley et al., 2011; Kelley et al., 2012). Furthermore, women in Asian countries such as Singapore and Thailand have entrepreneurship rates on a par with their male counterparts, and these countries create as many new firms, proportionately, as the United States and other Western countries (Kelley et al., 2011, Kelley et al., 2012). Highlighting the experiences of women entrepreneurs in both China and Japan, this chapter explores the potential impact of state policies and culture on the incidence of women’s entrepreneurship in Asian countries. China and Japan exhibit a significant variation in the occurrence of female entrepreneurship (high in China and low in Japan), not due to state intervention per se, but rather because of the nature of such intervention.

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