Edited by Helen Lawton Smith, Colette Henry, Henry Etzkowitz and Alexandra Poulovassilis
Chapter 9: Academic support for female entrepreneurs: the positive lasting effects of learning networks
This chapter explores the value of business learning networks for entrepreneurial development with a specific lens on female entrepreneurs. Peer learning is at the core of business learning networks and highly effective in the entrepreneurial context, with entrepreneurs perceiving increased validity from information gleaned from peers. Researchers within the domain of network theory have highlighted the deficit of studies capturing the dynamic developmental processes of business learning networks, and furthermore, studies of gender-specific networks are limited. Addressing these gaps, the case is presented of the female networks of the Sustainable Learning Networks in Ireland and Wales project. Two female networks were formed as part of this project as well as two male and two mixed networks. This facilitated an appreciation of the role that gender plays in the formation and development processes of business learning networks as well as in the performance of such networks.
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