Born to Be Alive? Female Entrepreneurship and Innovative Start-Ups
Research into gender in management and organizations is constantly and rapidly evolving. Recently, the spur of innovative start-ups has provided unprecedented opportunities for female entrepreneurship as a remedy to gender gap in occupation. Studies on the way female entrepreneurs running an innovative start-up face new business challenges can contribute to understanding the new drivers affecting value creation dynamics in our knowledge-based society. Stemming from the argument that entrepreneurship is a trigger to foster female work, the main research question of this paper is: What are the peculiarities of female entrepreneurship and innovative start-ups? In particular, how do women behave in terms of propensity to innovation, approach to creativity, decision making, networking and co-creation when running innovative start-ups? This paper first relies on a literature review of gender and innovative start-up enterprises. Then, an empirical investigation is developed on a sample of innovative start-ups run by female entrepreneurs included in the Register of Italian Companies. This analysis aims to elucidate objective characteristics related to the business (i.e. sectoral and geographical breakdown). Finally, the quantitative inquiry is complemented with the analysis of soft variables through semi-structured interviews with the aim to gather data on personal characteristics and behaviour of female start-uppers. This paper contributes to expanding the literature on gender studies by supplementing the debate on innovative entrepreneurship and the gender gap. Moreover, it offers a new perspective applied to a topic of high relevance: how women create, process and share knowledge in innovative start-ups, through application and exploitation of novel creative ideas and solutions. The major implication is to advance knowledge and practice in the area of gender in management by focusing upon theoretical developments, practice and current issues as far as innovative start-ups are concerned. Better understanding of the factors that motivate and encourage female entrepreneurs to run an innovative start-up is useful for policymakers, practitioners, and educators. This understanding can help when allocating resources for the purpose of encouraging innovation and when trying to train entrepreneurs to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of new ventures.
KeywordsWomen entrepreneurs Women managers Start-up Innovation Gender studies
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