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Women's contributions to rural development: implications for entrepreneurship policy
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6843-4038
Number of Authors: 42023 (English)In: International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, ISSN 1355-2554, E-ISSN 1758-6534Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose - Policy for women's entrepreneurship is designed to promote economic growth, not least in depleted rural areas, but very little is known about the contributions of rural women entrepreneurs, their needs or how the existing policy is received by them. Using a theoretical framework developed by Korsgaard et al. (2015), the authors analyse how rural women entrepreneurs contribute to rural development and discuss the implications for entrepreneurship policy. This paper aims to focus on the aforementioned objectives.

Design/methodology/approach - The authors interviewed 32 women entrepreneurs in rural Sweden representing the variety of businesses in which rural Swedish women are engaged. The authors analysed their contributions to rural development by analysing their motives, strategies and outcomes using Korsgaard et al.’s framework of “entrepreneurship in the rural” and “rural entrepreneurship” as a heuristic, interpretative device.

Findings - Irrespective of industry, the respondents were deeply embedded in family and local social structures. Their contributions were substantial, multidimensional and indispensable for rural viability, but the policy tended to bypass most women-owned businesses. Support in terms of business training, counselling and financing are important, but programmes especially for women tend to miss the mark, and so does rural development policy. More important for rural women entrepreneurs in Sweden is the provision of good public services, including for example, schools and social care, that make rural life possible.

Research limitations/implications - Theoretically, the findings question the individualist and a-contextual focus of much entrepreneurship research, as well as the taken-for-granted work–family divide. How gender and how the public and the private are configured varies greatly between contexts and needs contextual assessment. Moreover, the results call for theorising place as an entrepreneurial actor.

Practical implications - Based on the findings, the authors advise future policymakers to gender mainstream entrepreneurship policy and to integrate entrepreneurship and rural development policy with family and welfare state policy.

Originality/value - The paper highlights how rural women respond to policy, and the results are contextualised, making it possible to compare them to other contexts. The authors widen the discussion on contributions beyond economic growth, and the authors show that policy for public and commercial services and infrastructure is indeed also policy for entrepreneurship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
Keywords [en]
Entrepreneurship policy, Women's entrepreneurship, Rural viability, Rural development policy, Gender
National Category
Business Administration Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-223971DOI: 10.1108/IJEBR-11-2022-0973ISI: 001096427000001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85175788447OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-223971DiVA, id: diva2:1814386
Available from: 2023-11-24 Created: 2023-11-24 Last updated: 2023-11-24

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Berglund, Karin

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