Entreprenuering together: His and her stories

Among the various “critical” voices which have contributed to problematizing the discourse on entrepreneurship, that of gender studies is indubitably one of the most significant and fruitful. Applying a gender perspective to the study of entrepreneurship has led to the uncovering of the (male) gender assumptions embodied in the dictates of entrepreneurship and to distinguish between study of women entrepreneurs and study of the relationship between gender and entrepreneurship. One aspect little explored within this diversified array of studies concerns “mixed” situations in which a firm’s management is shared between a woman and a man. Such situations are interesting in that: first, they make it possible to problematize the economic rhetoric which promulgates entrepreneurship as an individual and isolated, activity; second, the simultaneous presence of a man and a woman allows observation of whether and how gender stereotypes and practices are at work in the process of positioning Him and Her within the firm. In order to investigate both these aspects, the paper considers 18 verbal histories of women and men entrepreneurs, showing how entrepreneurship can be conceived as a distributed activity, as well as a playground for gender dynamics. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Narrative analysis of 18 “two-voice” interviews (for a total of 36 individual interviews) collected in artisanal activities characterized by the concomitant presence of a Him and a Her within the firm.

First, interweaving between doing gender and doing business; second, entrepreneurship as a distributed activity; third, entrepreneurial environment sets out opportunities and contingent factors which can be used as resources for the positioning of Him and Her in the story and the construction of different narratives. This confirms the multi-dimensionality of entrepreneurial experience and suggests that future research should pay closer attention to the aspects of business activity sharing and reciprocity in the construction and positioning of gender.

Research limitations/implications
Main implication for future research is to pay closer attention to aspects of reciprocity sharing and gender positioning in entrepreneurship.

“Mixed” entrepreneurial experiences (firm’s management is shared between a woman and a man) are little explored and it is still uncommon to frame entrepreneurship as a distributed activity.

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