Effects of entrepreneurs’ individual factors and environmental contingencies on venture performance: a case study of African-American women-owned ventures

Few researchers have explored the determinants of venture performance of firms owned by African-American women. In recent years, the growth in the number of these firms have exceeded that of all women-owned firms however the growth in employment and revenues in African-American women-owned firms has lagged when compared with that of other minority women entrepreneurs. This qualitative study builds a conceptual framework that addresses the role that various resources and environmental factors may play in African-American women entrepreneurs’ venture performance. We argue that although some African-American women entrepreneurs may possess various individual level resources (i.e. human, social, psychological and financial capital) at business start-up, the environment in which they operate may greatly affect their ventures’ performance and sustainability. Anchoring our arguments in the resource constraint variant of labor market disadvantage and protected market theories, we provide propositions that detail how and why environmental contingencies can have both a mediating and moderating effect on African-American women’s venture performance. Our results show that the way in which the entrepreneurs experience their contextual environment can strengthen, weaken or negate the environment’s effect on their firms’ performance.

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