Entrepreneurial learning: gender differences

Ekanem, Ignatius U. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5678-3954 (2013) Entrepreneurial learning: gender differences. In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference, 12-13 Nov 2013, Cardiff, United Kingdom. . [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Objectives: This study aims to explore the differences in the entrepreneurial experiences between male and female entrepreneurs. The study investigates what entrepreneurs learn, how they learn, who they learn from and what prompted such learning.

Prior Work: While Fenwick (2002) suggests that female entrepreneurs learn subjectively and thus differently from their male counterparts, other studies such as Kirkwood (2009) conclude that men tend to have higher self-confidence than women and this affects their entrepreneurial intentions. In their study, Van Velsor and Hughes-James (1990) indicate that although most of the respondents reported job assignment as the significant learning incident, there were subtle differences between the preferences and sources of learning among men and women managers. However, Bryans and Mavin (2003) argue that because women are sometimes placed in less visible and less responsible positions, the new assignment they receive and the lessons they subsequently learn are significantly different from those of men.

Approach: The data under analysis is drawn from a qualitative study which involves in-dept, semi-structured interviews conducted longitudinally in ten case study companies over a period of four years. The case study findings are analysed and discussed using a learning framework.

Results: The findings suggest significant differences in the learning experiences between male and female entrepreneurs. Whilst male entrepreneurs were more likely to challenge and depart from industry norms, thus utilising double-loop learning process, female entrepreneurs were more likely to engage in ‘routinised’ learning which enhances confidence, thus adopting the single-loop learning process.

Implications: The main implication of the study for policy-makers is that unique training, networking and support programmes should be designed for women entrepreneurs. The study is limited to the extent that it can be generalised to a wider population of small businesses.

Value: To date, there have only been speculations and little understanding about whether there are differences in the entrepreneurial learning experiences between men and women. Thus, policy-makers have little guidance as to whether or not unique training and support programmes should be designed for female entrepreneurs. The study is novel in so far as it was conducted longitudinally over a period of four years to sufficiently follow the learning behavioural pattern of entrepreneurs in different business sectors. This is in view of the fact that “longitudinal research inside the organisation has been noticeable only by its absence in the small firm sector” (Deakins et al, 2000, p.213).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords (uncontrolled): entrepreneurial learning, learning experience, learning process, qualitative methodology
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 16076
Notes on copyright: Permission granted on 13/04/17, by the ISBE (http://isbe.org.uk/) to make the full text of the conference paper available in the Middlesex University Research Repository
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Ignatius Ekanem
Date Deposited: 18 May 2015 16:30
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 00:04
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/16076

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