Literature Review on Female Entrepreneurship


Introduction

Research in business management has provided managers, companies and organizations with the opportunity to remain competitive and relevant with the changing events that shape business nowadays. With a proper focus on management research, it results in an easier task for companies and individuals to excel at. Female entrepreneurship is one of the quickest growing sectors in management research across third world countries. As noted by Gomes, Santana, Araújo & Martins (2014), female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship has grown to be a crucial part of research. Thus, it is important to examine the various research approaches and methodological methods that have been used by researchers in studying the concept of female entrepreneurship across third world countries. This review examines peer review articles on female entrepreneurship research with a focus on research methodologies used by researchers in this field.

Rationale for topic selection

The male stereotype and dominance have shaped various spheres of life, including business management and entrepreneurship. However, with the rising focus on the rights and freedoms of women, there has been tremendous change in the concept of equality in the 21st century. Unlike many years ago when many sectors were dominated by men only, nowadays the women have gradually started to take their space in the business market. With regards to entrepreneurship, women have taken a major role in developing and starting to implement their own business ideas. According to a study of female entrepreneurship in Europe, the European Commission Report (2014) found that women were accounted for up to 29% of the entrepreneurs totalling to 11.6 million female entrepreneurs. The report has also noted that since 2008, there has been a steady increase in women entrepreneurs not only in the EU but around the entire world as well. The same has been the case in management research where many researchers and scholars have shifted their focus towards studying female entrepreneurship. Among the core areas of focus in these studies, it has been a motivation of these entrepreneurs’ challenges and opportunities available for female entrepreneurs. It is evident that female entrepreneurship has developed to become a social area of focus in management research. Thus, the point of this research topic is purely based on the fact that female entrepreneurship has become a central focus for most research nowadays. In other words, there is a need to examine and explore the research methodologies used by these authors undertaking their research. In addition, the articles picked for review focus on major areas of female entrepreneurship namely entrepreneurial capabilities, motivation and challenges faced by these business women. Therefore, it is expected that this review will provide more information on the concept of female entrepreneurship from a methodological perspective. Through understanding the different research approaches taken and methodologies used in management research, managers and scholars in the field will become more comfortable at understanding the topic. Nevertheless, either qualitative or quantitative methods can be used to explore the research. However, combined methods are more effective at examining the concept of female entrepreneurship in management research.

Critical and comparative review

Quantitative articles include the studies done by Lock & Lawton Smith (2016) and Mitchelmore & Rowley (2013). Qualitative articles include studies done by Datta & Gailey (2012) and Naguib & Jamali (2015). The quantitative research study by Lock & Lawton Smith (2016) focused on structured and semi-structured interviews for collecting the data. Specifically, structured interviews were conducted on 27 female entrepreneurs while semi-structured interviews were conducted on selected employees. As noted by the authors, the study focused on primary data collection through the interviews. The researchers also note the use of direct observation in the study. This could this highlight some composition of mixed research methods. The use of direct observation has mostly often been grouped as qualitative research. The fact that it has been used in this study may be crucial in providing further information on female entrepreneurs. However, the choice of the research methodologies by these researchers was not justified in the research article. On the contrary, Mitchelmore & Rowley (2013) justified their choice of quantitative research methodologies. Specifically, the authors provided two reasons for their use of questionnaires. The authors used questionnaire-based method because, “it has been the main tradition in research studies that focus on entrepreneurial competencies thus allowing easier comparisons with other previous studies in the field” (p. 130). Secondly, the use of questionnaire design was preferred for this study because according to the researchers, “it allowed a large number of respondents to be included in the study, including people from different sectors and business sizes” (p. 130). Specifically, up to 210 valid questionnaires were collected from the study. Thus, it is clear that the choice of each type of quantitative research approach is guided by specific research interests among the researchers. While the use of questionnaires allows for a larger sample size, interviews may be preferred because they give specific information from the perspective of the respondents. A major component of the questionnaire developed by Michelmore & Rowley, it would be the list of entrepreneurial capability which was the third section of the questionnaire developed by the authors. The ability of this questionnaire to allow respondents to self-assess their entrepreneurial capabilities emerges as a major reason for the inclusion of this section in the questionnaire. The same approach had been used by previous studies in the same field, thus, justifying its choice by the researchers. According to the researchers, an online distribution of the questionnaires was preferred because it was quicker and cheaper. This typically proves the fact that researchers often choose research approaches that would yield maximum benefits for their research studies.

The qualitative article by Naguib & Jamali (2015) mainly collected data using focus groups. In these groups, the researchers conducted interviews and collected data using planned discussion groups. As noted by the researchers, the use of these research approaches was designed to “elicit specific information, thoughts, concerns and opinions from the respondents” (p. 142). The authors note that previous researcher who used focus groups found the method to be appropriate for collecting rich and diverse data. Unlike quantitative studies examined earlier, this study mainly focused on deeply exploring the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in UAE. Thus, a difference in the use of either approach is evident. The use of focus groups is important because unlike individual interviews examined in the quantitative study by Lock and Lawton Smith (2016), information from focus group interviews reveals a wider and unexpected insights into the research topic. The writers also note that the use of focus group for data collection conformed with the oral traditions of the Arab society. However, a challenge of using focus groups as noted in the article is the fact that one has to consider group size and homogeneity. The study selected five-member focus groups which is an appropriate number for getting high quality information. In the other qualitative study by Datta & Gailey (2012), the case study approach was preferred because, “it was useful in illustrating motivating and inspiring readers to understand and appreciate a particular theory” (p. 573). The case study focused on seven women who were interviewed and the data collected stored in video recording for further analysis. As noted by Bluhm, Harman, Lee, & Mitchell (2011) there has been great progress in the use of qualitative research methods in management research. The fact that each research method has its own advantages and shortcoming most researchers often combine both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. In other words, combining these two research methods means that the researchers benefit from both research studies. As shown by Kelle (2006) combining both qualitative and quantitative research methods have multiple advantages that can be gained by researchers.

Discussion

Female entrepreneurship is one of the important areas of study in management research. Thus, both qualitative and quantitative approaches have been used by scholars. Quantitative research approaches allow researchers to work on numerical data in understanding the concept of female entrepreneurship. In a study done by Lock & Lawton Smith (2016), the researchers conducted a survey using face to face interviews to examine impacts of female entrepreneurship on economic growth in Kenya. Economic growth is a quantitative measure, so it was a very appropriate concept for researchers to use quantitative methods in order to examine the research question. The use of structured and semi structured interviews allowed the researchers to collect quantitative information from the research participants on the impacts of female entrepreneurship in the country’s economy. A critical feature evident from this research is that the choice of the research method was aligned with the research objectives. In other words, the fact that the researchers were seeking to examine the impacts of female entrepreneurship in the economy means that the use of quantitative research approaches was very appropriate at reviewing the results of their accomplishments. Similarly, a study done by Mitchelmore & Rowley (2013) used quantitative approaches to examine entrepreneurial capabilities reported among female entrepreneurs. The researchers used a questionnaire-based survey to examine their research questions. In these two instances, it is clear that the use of quantitative research methods allowed the researchers to collect first-hand numerical data from the research participants that was used for answering their research questions. The researchers from the two quantitative research studies were interested in objective measurements and numerical analysis of the data, thus explaining the use of questionnaire surveys and face to face interviews. These research methods were well aligned to the needs of these researchers. In addition, it was possible for the researchers to work with a large number of respondents for collecting their studies.

On the other hand, unlike quantitative research methods that focuses on numerical data, qualitative research approaches mainly involve observational methods that seek to collect non-numerical data. In management research, both qualitative and quantitative research approaches have been adopted by researchers. Qualitative observational and exploratory research approaches can also be used for examining female entrepreneurship. A study by Datta & Gailey (2012), explored the concept of women entrepreneurship from a social perspective. In this case the authors used case study analysis for examining the research question. Unlike quantitative research that aims at collecting numerical data, qualitative research is used for gaining a deeper understanding and insight into the research topic. The fact that the intention of the researchers was to gain more information and a deeper understanding of the female entrepreneurship in social context means that the use of a qualitative approach was appropriate. In a similar context Naguib & Jamali (2015), wanted to understand the factors that affect the expression of female entrepreneurship. Thus, the researchers adopted a qualitative approach that used focus groups for collecting the information. It is evident that the use of qualitative research methods is mainly used for gaining more information about female entrepreneurship using non-numerical data. Quantitative research methods, on the other hand, provide numerical data on female entrepreneurship. These research articles highlight the fact that the choice of the research methodology depends on the interests of the researchers, intentions, and aims of the research. However, the need for appropriate choice of research methodology is required to undertake research in a professional manner.

Conclusion

Female entrepreneurship is an area of management research that has grown to become a special area of focus for researchers. With the rising number of women in entrepreneurial position, it is essential for research to focus on this subject area. From a methodological perspective, this review has shown that both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies have been used by researchers in this field. However, these methodologies are used in different contexts and for different purposes. Qualitative research methods are mainly preferred when researchers are looking for in-depth understanding of the topic while quantitative research methods are used when researchers seek to collect numerical and empirical data on female entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, the choice of the research methodology is dependent on the aims and purpose of the research.

References

  • Bluhm, D. J., Harman, W., Lee, T. W., & Mitchell, T. R. (2011). Qualitative research in management: A decade of progress. Journal of Management Studies, 48(8), 1866-1891.
  • Datta, P. B., & Gailey, R. (2012). Empowering women through social entrepreneurship: Case study of a women’s cooperative in India. Entrepreneurship theory and Practice, 36(3), 569-587.
  • EU. (2014). Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe – 2014. Brussels: The European Commission.
  • Gomes, A. F., Santana, W. G. P., Araújo, U. P., & Martins, C. M. F. (kellnagui). Female entrepreneurship as subject of research. Revista Brasileira de Gestão de Negócios, 16(51), 319-342.
  • Kelle, U. (2006). Combining qualitative and quantitative methods in research practice: purposes and advantages. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(4), 293-311.
  • Lock, R., & Lawton Smith, H. (2016). The impact of female entrepreneurship on economic growth in Kenya. International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 8(1), 90-96.
  • Mitchelmore, S., & Rowley, J. (2013). Entrepreneurial competencies of women entrepreneurs pursuing business growth. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 20(1), 125-142.
  • Naguib, R., & Jamali, D. (2015). Female entrepreneurship in the UAE: a multi-level integrative lens. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 30(2), 135-161.

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