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The gendered effects of entrepreneurialism in contrasting contexts

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  • Malin Tillmar
  • Helene Ahl
  • Karin Berglund
  • Katarina Pettersson
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/04/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Purpose
Contrasting Sweden and Tanzania, we explore the experiences of women entrepreneurs affected by entrepreneurialism. We discuss the impact on their position in society and on their ability to take feminist action.
Design/methodology/approach
We analysed interviews conducted in the two countries over 15 years, using a holistic perspective on context, including its gendered dimensions.
Findings
Our results amount to a critique of entrepreneurialism. Women in Sweden did not experience much gain from entrepreneurship, while in Tanzania results were mixed. Entrepreneurialism seems unable to improve the situation for women in the relatively well-functioning economies in the global north, where it was designed.
Originality
The paper adds to the understanding of context in entrepreneurship studies: Africa is largely an underexplored continent, and contrasting North and South is an underexplored methodological approach. We further extend and develop the model of gendered contexts developed by Welter et al. (2014).
Research implications
In mainstream entrepreneurship studies, there is a focus on the institutional context. From our analysis, it is apparent that equal attention must be given to the social and spatial contexts since they may have severe material and economic consequences for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. The paper raises questions for further studies on the gendering of markets in different contexts, as well as questions on the urban-rural dimension.
Policy implications
In Sweden, marketisation of welfare services led to more women-owned businesses, but the position of women did not improve. Our results strongly convey the need for a careful analysis of the pre-existing context, before initiating reforms.