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The Relationship Between Women Entrepreneurship And Leadership Effectiveness
The main aim of this study is to investigate the impact of women’s social gender roles on leadership effectiveness in enterprises managed by women. Specifically, the study seeks to answer the following research questions as they relate to the research aim: (a) how social gender roles influence leadership effectiveness, (b) how social gender roles influence women entrepreneurship, (c) how leadership effectiveness develops in women entrepreneurship contexts, and (d) what best practices should be instituted to enhance leadership effectiveness among women entrepreneurs. Basically, the study will be examining the level of entrepreneurial leadership among women, that is, the extent which women entrepreneurs are willing to optimise risk, mobilise resources, take full responsibility of their businesses, innovate, make long-term plans, and manage change in dynamic environments. In other words, the study investigates how effective women entrepreneurs are in providing leadership to their employees, customers, suppliers, government agencies, community` at large. Arguably, this will entail analysing existing relevant primary studies on the study subject matter. The results of this analysis will then be presented and a comprehensive discussion offered to shed more light on the suitability of women entrepreneurs as leaders.
The study is based on the premise that women entrepreneurship is crucial for the development of the welfare of any modern society. However, the study pays cognisance to the evidence gathered from both developed and developing countries which shows that women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges because many societies still embrace crooked gender social roles that demeans women (Brindley, 2005; Martin and Ribeiro, 2012; OECD, 2004; Thornton, 2009; Vogel, 2003). Their natural sex roles notwithstanding, most societies still consider women inferior, less skilled, less experienced, and technically unfit to launch, nurture, and implement entrepreneurial ideas to fruition (McClelland et al., 2005). Further, Appelbaum, Audet and Miller (2002) and Morgan (2004) posit that most societies do not appropriate the same level of respect, honour and recognition to female leaders as they do to male leaders. This biased attention towards female leaders can be referred to as social gender profiling, a phenomenon which according to Appelbaum et al. (2002), Brindley (2005) and Vogel et al. (2003) relegates women to the fringes of entrepreneurship and leadership circles and ultimately undermines their chances to acquire and nurture worthwhile leadership skills crucial for successful entrepreneurship in male-dominated business world.
For purposes of this study, women entrepreneurship will be considered as business entities owned or operated by women. On the other hand, leadership effectiveness will be considered to be an inclusive leadership that empowers followers to be authentic and curious to learn creative ways of accomplishing their tasks. This is consistent with Cooper and Nirenberg (2012: 2) inclusive definition that,
…at other levels in the organization, leadership effectiveness is subject to a diversity of objectives. Work flow and interdepartmental decision making processes, the pursuit of mutual efficiency targets and the development of external relationships with key stakeholders (e.g., customers and suppliers) are different objectives from those that are created within a work team or that serve the interests of one’s own department and staff. All of this suggests that leadership effectiveness includes a dimension associated not only with just one’s followers but also with one’s colleagues.
In a nutshell, the relationship between women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness or simply women entrepreneurial leadership will be taken to mean the capability of women to organise others (both men and women) in successfully pursuing collective objectives by employing proactive methods such as risk optimisation, innovation, responsibility-taking, resource mobilisation, managing change even in highly dynamic environments, and long-term planning. This is consistent with Kuratko and Hodgetts (2004: 30) broad assertion that,
Entrepreneurship [leadership] is a dynamic process of vision, change, and creation. It requires an application of energy and passion towards the creation and implementation of new ideas and creative solutions. Essential ingredients include the willingness to take calculated risks in terms of time, equity, or career; the ability to formulate an effective venture team; the creative skill to marshal needed resources; and fundamental skill of building solid business plan; and finally, the vision to recognize opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction, and confusion.
The study is structured into five successive chapters. Chapter one provides a general overview of the study subject area, chapter two provides an overview of the data collection and analysis processes, chapter three presents the results, chapter four discusses the results while chapter five offers a wrap-up of the main findings.
This study employed systematic literature review as its only data collection tool. A systematic literature review is a form of meta-analysis where a researcher uses a set of key words and subject headings to search and review relevant past studies addressing a particular subject matter such as the relationship between women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness (Thomas et al., 2004). These past studies are searched from known databases as well as the World Wide Web (internet). In this regards, the actual systematic review for this study involved searching, analysing, reviewing, and interpreting past studies that discusses the relationship between women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness.
This study reviewed articles that could be retrieved in their entirety from the internet without any subscription fee requirements. Though this is a major limitation given that most past systematic literature reviews utilises known databases such as Proquest, Ebscohost, Emerald, and Questia, Thomas et al. (2004) reason that, popular subject areas falling in the social sciences realm can be adequately covered by free-to-download articles available in the internet or accessed from local libraries. As a matter of fact, a simple general internet search using the key words “relationship between women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness” led to more than 4,200 results when using Google search tool. Nevertheless, the researcher employed more refined key words to narrow down the search to more relevant studies. These key words were “women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness”, “women entrepreneurs”, “women entrepreneurship”, “leadership effectiveness”, “women leadership”, “women leaders”, “women”, “effective leadership”, and “entrepreneurial leadership.” In addition, the researcher followed secondary links from main results in order to refine the final results located by the Google search engine. Ultimately, the search yielded about 2,000 studies addressing the study subject area, from which 500 studies were identified based on their subject matter.
Nevertheless, not all of these results amounted to relevant literature capable of answering this study’s research questions. To this end, the researcher used the developed systematic review protocol to eliminate past studies whose core aims and findings were not suitable to the aim of this study. In order to enhance credibility, the study narrowed down its scope on studies that either supported or disputed the notion that social gender roles play a major role in determining the effectiveness of the leadership approaches deployed by women entrepreneurs. Studies addressing the concept of entrepreneurial leadership were given first priority during the final selection. As Thomas et al. (2004) provides, this led to the extraction of rich, relevant, and diverse set of past studies that address the study subject area. For purposes of enhancing validity and reliability, all relevant articles, irrespective of their setting, nationality, author and type were considered eligible for this study.
Nevertheless, the researcher selected studies that have been published in peer reviewed journals. Majority of these studies are recent, 8 of them were published between 2011 and 2013 while the other two were published in 2004 and 2005, respectively. This makes their findings relevant to the study aim. Further, and as Table 1 below shows, the studies capture a diverse socio-economic area, from Nigeria to China, from Malaysia to America, from Iran to France, and from India to Greece. All these studies present a clear and unambiguous findings regarding women entrepreneurial leadership across the globe. Moreover, all the studies presents an extensive comparative analysis of entrepreneurial leadership prospects of both men and women before making well supported findings to the effect that though women entrepreneurial leadership prospects have continued to increase over the years, there is still a large disparity between men and women.
The researcher narrowed down his scope on 10 relevant studies. The reason to narrow down on only 10 past studies while a simple internet search using the following key phrase “relationship between women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness” yielded more than 4200 results was based on the limited time-frame as well as monetary constraints encountered by the researcher. Of importance also was the fact that this decision was in tandem with Saunders et al. (2009) postulation, the size of a study sample should be easy to handle for the researcher and should be representative of the target study demographic, that is, it should not be too large or too small. To this end, the researcher reasoned that 10 primary studies that cover the four research questions met the minimum reliability and validity because they adequately addressed the study subject area, that is, the relationship between women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness – entrepreneurial leadership among women.
Table 1: Bibliographical Details of the Reviewed Studies
Authors & Date
Kaylani, B. & Kumar, D. (2011).
Far East Journal of Psychology and Business.
Kitching, B. & Woldie, A. (2004).
Proceedings Hawaii International Conference on Business, Hawaii.
Magoulios, G. & Kydros, D. (2011).
MIBES – Oral.
EU and Greece.
Ademokun, F. & Ajayi, O. (2012).
Journal of Business Diversity.
Kitching, B., Mishra, R. & Shu, X. (2005).
ABERU Discussion Paper 16.
India and China.
Gorji, M. & Rahimian, P. (2011).
Australian Journal of Business and Management Research.
Golestan Province, Iran.
Alam, S., Jani, M., & Omar, N. (2011).
International Journal of Economics and Finance.
Moore, D. & Moore, J. (2011).
Agbim, K. Oriarewo, G. & Owocho, G. (2013).
International Journal of Business and Management Invention.
Benue State, Nigeria.
Hin, C., Isa, F. & Hashim, N. (2012).
Knowledge Management International Conference.
Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
The researcher conducted a quick but purposeful check on the 500 identified studies to establish their purpose, methodology, and findings. Studies whose findings addressed one or all the four research questions outlined in the first chapter were labelled and a results table created to make the data analysis process easier. Other data extraction and synthesis attributes employed by the researcher included the study methodology and aims as well as the settings of the study. Ultimately, the researcher grouped the studies into two categories depending on their findings – the first category comprised of studies that supported the notion that social gender roles play a major role in determining the effectiveness of the leadership approaches deployed by women entrepreneurs while the second category comprised of studies that did not support this notion. This made the process of drawing meaning from the past studies more meaningful and therefore easy even by way of manual methods of drawing codes and short memos. The researcher utilised his experience to draw a coding book based on the knowledge acquired during academic and professional practice as well as from the engagement of content within the course of the study. Ultimately, the whole process of data extraction and synthesis was carried out smoothly and within the frameworks as guided by the research questions.
For purposes of clarity, the results for the above systematic literature review are arranged in four core sections, each addressing one research question. The reason to arrange these results in such a systematic manner was advised by postulations from Thomas et al. (2004) that, arranging the synthesised data extracted from past studies along distinct sections enhances the authenticity of the study findings. All the reviewed studied meets the minimum academic rigour benchmarks in the sense that they employ valid and reliable data collection and analysis methods including interviews, questionnaires and review of past studies. 8 of the 10 studies rely on both secondary data collected from past studies as well as on primary data collected through either questionnaires or interviews. As Table 2 below shows, the 2 remaining studies utilise a diverse range of secondary data.
All the reviewed studies were published between 2004 and 2013, making their findings relevant to the aim and objectives of this research study. The fact that majority of the studies reviewed (8 out of 10) covering women entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness implies that there has been an increase in awareness about the importance of women taking part in entrepreneurship and leadership positions in the society. Further, this is a reflection that the position of women in most societies (developed and developing countries) has continued to improve over the years. In essence, this can be interpreted to mean that educational and professional bodies have realised the untapped potential in women especially in implementing complex entrepreneurial programmes in their own businesses or in large businesses.
As Table 2 below shows, majority of the studies highlight the various challenges facing women entrepreneurs across the globe. The studies argue that these challenges are responsible for determining the success of women entrepreneurs in their ventures as they directly shape the leadership styles women undertake to manage their human, technological, natural and financial resources. Further, the study seems to suggest that women are motivated by the same factors that motivate men to venture into self-employment. For instance, the desire to pursue economic independence is the most prompting factor behind women entrepreneurship especially in developing economies. Other factors include access to financial support, academic and professional know-how, societal support and acceptance as well as the existence of sustainable business opportunities.
Table 2: Summary of the Reviewed Studies and their Findings
Establish the motivational factors behind women entrepreneurship in SMEs.
Literature search and questionnaires.
Capital is the most motivational factor behind women entrepreneurship. Women entrepreneurs also consider the feasibility and viability of a business in terms of sales turnover and profitability. Past experience in a particular business field and the desire to be economically independence play crucial roles in determining women entrepreneurship. Overall, women entrepreneurs employ sound leadership skills when venturing into new entrepreneurial opportunities.
A comparative study of the challenges and leadership styles employed by female entrepreneurs in transitional economies in Nigeria and China
Literature search, questionnaires and structured interviews.
Women in transitional economies such as Nigeria and China face challenges in accessing financing, accessing lucrative businesses, getting support from the community and government, and immense competition male dominated business community. Nevertheless, women entrepreneurs in these economies can enjoy entrepreneurial benefits if they are well trained and funded by the government. Women entrepreneurs also are equal leaders in their businesses just like their male counterparts. Women entrepreneurs can lead independent economic lifestyles if they dedicate more of their efforts in managing their businesses well.
Investigation of the obstacles and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in EU and Greece.
Women entrepreneurs face financial constraints in realising their full entrepreneurial potential compared to their men counterparts in both developed and developing nations. Efforts made to avail capital close to women entrepreneurs have been limited in Greece yet the country has undertaken bold steps to empower women financially, to create more entrepreneurial opportunities for women and to create a level playing ground for both women and men entrepreneurs.
Investigate the factor(s) that motivates women to be entrepreneurial and also the characteristics of women business owners in Nigeria.
Literature search, structured questionnaires and in-depth interviews.
Most women starts businesses to be economically independent, women use their personal savings to start businesses, and service sector women-operated businesses are slowly taking over.
To compare the experiences that female entrepreneurs undergo in India and China
Literature search, structured questionnaires and in-depth interviews
Chinese women entrepreneurs are not taken seriously by men entrepreneurs while Indian women entrepreneurs lack basic training and finance. Women entrepreneurs lead to economic independence.
To examine the main barriers to individual entrepreneurship and compare how these barriers apply to men and women entrepreneurs.
Literature search, correlation-survey, and questionnaires.
There is a big difference between individual and environmental barriers to entrepreneurship and leadership effectiveness. Women face more barriers than men.
To examine the core factors that affects the success of women entrepreneurs in Malaysia’s Southern region.
Literature search, and self administered questionnaire.
Family support, social ties and internal motivation help women to become successful entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs face multiple challenges in their first days in business.
To test whether the leadership skills and knowledge acquired by women while in the corporate world help them to handle the challenges they face when building their own business empires.
Women entrepreneurs face numerous financial, operational, tactical and strategic challenges even in developed nations. They however mitigate these challenges by embracing a proactive, collaborative leadership approach that build a sense of trust, creativity, openness, and teamwork trust among their teams.
To investigate the leadership styles as well as the personal and business attributes demonstrated by indigenous women entrepreneurs in Tiv land, Benue State, Nigeria. To highlight the challenges encountered by these women entrepreneurs in achieving innovation goals.
Literature search and in-depth interviews.
The leadership style employed by the women in the implementation of innovation varied. Tiv Land women entrepreneurs pursue four different entrepreneur-leadership styles related to the following terms, “friend”, and father”, “mother” and “ambidextrous.” Further, the study finds that age, educational level, linguistic prowess, ownership structure, and type of business are the main factors determining the entrepreneur-leadership style to adopt. Lastly, the study established that the easily-tiring nature of women, financial constraints, overbearing nature, and resistance to change on the part of the employees as the most common challenges encountered by women entrepreneurs when pursuing their innovation goals.
To study the entrepreneurial innovative behaviour as well as the leadership styles that successful women entrepreneur in Malaysia.
Literature search and in-depth interviews.
Most women entrepreneurs in Malaysia have a positive perception about themselves that help to enhance staff acceptance. Women entrepreneurs have high self-esteem, discipline, and motivation, pursue a participative and democratic leadership style, and are result-driven. Unlike men, women entrepreneurs demonstrate soft leadership skills.
NB: Study 1 = Kaylani, B. & Kumar, D. (2011), study 2 = Kitching, B. & Woldie, A. (2004), study 3 = Magoulios, G. & Kydros, D. (2011), study 4 = Ademokun, F. & Ajayi, O. (2012), study 5 = Kitching, B., Mishra, R. & Shu, X. (2005), study 6 = Gorji, M. & Rahimian, P. (2011), study 7 = Alam, S., Jani, M., & Omar, N. (2011), study 8 = Moore, D. & Moore, J. (2011), study 9 = Agbim, K. Oriarewo, G. & Owocho, G. (2013), and study 10 = Hin, C., Isa, F. & Hashim, N. (2012).
The reviewed research studies agree that indeed social gender roles of femininity and masculinity have a direct bearing on the nature of leadership styles pursued by entrepreneurs. The studies indicate that biased social gender profiling is a real problem among women entrepreneurship leadership – women are perceived by their own staff, male entrepreneurs and even the society at large, as less effective when it comes to developing and implementing entrepreneurial innovations, strategies and tactics to success. A common thread that runs across these studies is that the society should be more receptive and supportive to women entrepreneurs. The studies establish that such support can manifest in the form of offering academic, professional, financial, technological, and moral support to women who wish to start new business ventures. In a nutshell, the studies find that women are equally competent just as men in developing and implementing bold innovations, strategies and tactics for guiding new entrepreneurial ventures to success. Specifically, the reviewed studies establish that women entrepreneurs are efficient in optimising risks, mobilising resources, innovating new products and business processes, managing financial, human, technological and natural resources, making long-term plans, and managing change in dynamic environments.
Study 1 is based on the premise that entrepreneurship development occupies a salient position in the enhancement of economic policies in any given country more so developing countries such as India. Young people and women have ventured into mainstream sectors such construction, engineering and metal industry that were the preserve of men in the past. This makes it important for researchers to study the motivating factors behind women entrepreneurship leadership. While relating entrepreneurship leadership to institutions of higher learning, this study therefore investigates the motivational factors that drive women to venture into entrepreneurial activities in India. The study hypothesises that educational institutions can enhance entrepreneurship among women by tailoring their programmes around these motivational factors. In order to test this hypothesis, the researchers narrowed their scope on small and medium enterprises located in SIDCO Industrial Estates in India’s Madurai Region. A sample comprising of 144 small scale entrepreneurs was selected from the 432 small scale entrepreneurs in this region. To analyse the primary data, the researcher employed Kruskal Wallis Test, descriptive statistics, and correlation, regression. The study holds that leadership effectiveness or simply entrepreneurial leadership among women entrepreneurs in developing countries such as India is greatly influenced by the amount of capital at their disposal whether in the form of personal savings, friends’ contribution, and grants from non-governmental organisations or even access to loan facilities from public and private financial institutions. Further, this study finds that women entrepreneurs factor in sales turn over and profitability issues as the major determinants of their ability to transcend high entrepreneurial leadership heights just like their men counterparts. In addition, the study finds that women entrepreneurs in developing countries employ collaborative leadership skills as a way of mitigating the multiple challenges that they face when venturing into the men-dominated entrepreneurial environments. Lastly, the study recommends that educational institutions should liaise with the business community through empirical studies in order to streamline their programmes to the prevailing trends in the entrepreneurship leadership world.
While acknowledging the fact that discrimination against women entrepreneurship leads to negative socio-economic and political development in any given country including China and Nigeria, study 1 holds that lack of accurate information on women entrepreneurship discrimination hinders policy formulation. Specifically, the authors wonder whether both China and Nigeria should follow conventional remedies to successful women entrepreneurship leadership. To this effect, the study explores the answers to recurring questions such as whether the socio-economic and political developments made in transitioning countries such as China and Nigeria have enhanced women entrepreneurship leadership opportunities, what type of entrepreneurship venture does women venture in these economies, the nature of access women entrepreneurs have on financial resources, if women entrepreneurs experience similar challenges just like their male counterparts in these regions, and whether women in China and Nigeria face similar form of socioeconomic and political discrimination with their colleagues in other societies. Data for this study was collected by way of literature search, structured interviews, and questionnaire survey. The semi-structured interviews and questionnaires were administered on 200 women entrepreneurs, 100 each from Nigeria and China. The study sample comprised of women entrepreneurs from different age, academic, marital status, and business experience categories. From this study sample, it was established that women in developing countries such as Nigeria and China face the challenge of not being taken seriously by their men colleagues and by the society in general. There is a general perception in most societies that entrepreneurship is more challenging for women than for men even when they operate in the same conditions. Further, the study finds that in Nigeria and China, women are perceived as incapable of gaining full control of their lives through entrepreneurship leadership. This negative perception limits women potential in realising their entrepreneurship leadership goals. Though the study acknowledges the fact that women can be successful entrepreneurial leaders, biased social gender profiling limits their capabilities.
Study 3 is based on the premise that though small and medium enterprises owned and operated by women entrepreneurs play a salient role in the development of any given society, women entrepreneurs experience numerous challenges related to funding their business ventures. The study acknowledges that even in developed nations such as the EU and Greece, women entrepreneurs are subjected to a mirage of challenges ranging from social stigma to financial difficulties. This comes at the background of countless solutions to the perennial problem faced by women entrepreneurs in the EU at large and specifically in Greece. The study employs a systematic review of relevant literature as its sole data collection tool to highlight the quantity and quality of financial tools in the EU and Greece that targets small and medium enterprises in general and women entrepreneurs in particula.............
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