One size doesn’t fit all: gender differences in motivations for becoming an entrepreneur
Kirkwood, Jodyanne Jane
Why are people motivated to become entrepreneurs? Previous studies suggest independence, money, a challenge or to get recognition, and work and family reasons are key motivators. Understanding more about potential gender differences in the motivations to become an entrepreneur is the focus of this thesis. In addition to contributing to the academic literature, this study also has implications for policy makers and practitioners, as well as for entrepreneurs and nascent entrepreneurs.It is often concluded that women’s and men’s motivations for becoming an entrepreneur are similar. While there have been many studies on the motivations for becoming an entrepreneur, empirical studies that compare women and men directly are more limited. Much of this prior research has focused on testing whether gender differences exist, and gives little attention to theory development. An integrated perspective, proposed by Brush (1992) suggests that women integrate their business into their lives. This integrated perspective encompasses psychological and sociological foundations and is used a framework for exploring gender differences in motivations for becoming an entrepreneur. This study employs a multiple paradigm research methodology. The first paradigm mirrors much of the prior literature. A mail survey was designed, and responses were received from 289 entrepreneurs. No statistically significant gender differences were found on any of the six motivating factors tested. The second paradigm involved a constructivist approach to explore two motivations in particular (work and family). In depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 of these entrepreneurs (25 women and 25 men). The findings suggest that women and men construct the term ‘entrepreneur’ differently, and few women participants are willing to apply the term entrepreneur to themselves. The findings also support the integrated perspective, where women consider their families (especially children and domestic partners) in their decision to become an entrepreneur, whereas men appear to be motivated by a desire to outdo their fathers or prove something to their families. Men are motivated to become an entrepreneur because of dissatisfaction with their jobs, and a desire for independence from an employer. Alternatively, few women had such dissatisfaction at work. The prime objective of this thesis is to contribute to theory development. Two models are proposed to explain gender differences in motivations to become an entrepreneur. They offer contributions to theory by suggesting that women entrepreneurs construe themselves as interdependent, and this impacts their motivations to become an entrepreneur. Alternatively, men participants tend to be motivated by internal factors, and this suggests that they have a more independent construal of self.
Degree Discipline: Management
Research Type: Thesis