Entrepreneurial Learning: Gender Differences

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is 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.

Design/methodology/approach
The data under analysis is drawn from a qualitative study which involves in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted longitudinally as a case study in ten firms over a period of five years. The case study findings are analysed and discussed using a learning framework.

Findings
The findings suggest some 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.

Research limitations/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.

Originality/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 five years to sufficiently follow the learning behavioural pattern of entrepreneurs in different business sectors.

Keywords

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