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The role of social identity in internationalization of women‐owned small businesses in Sri Lanka

Gertrude I. Hewapathirana (Assistant Professor, Learning and Performance Program at Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America)

Journal of Asia Business Studies

ISSN: 1558-7894

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




Building on the social identity theory perspectives, by analyzing multiple qualitative case study data of successful and award‐winning women small business owner‐managers, this study aims to find that, in the Sri Lankan context, social identities of women play an important role.


Social identities are understood to be individuals' popularity, reputation, worthiness, social recognition, competence, and power. Social identities act as self‐motivators for women to maintain excellence in quality standards, positive image, and venture into innovations. Women's social identities portrayed them as trustworthy entrepreneurs, while attracting new clients and building confidence within new clients early in the internationalization process of their small businesses.


This study concludes that the social identity of women entrepreneurs enabled them to break glass ceilings and emerge as competent entrepreneurs who can be successful in international markets. Therefore, favorable policies and an in‐depth research are needed to recognize and build women's social identities as entrepreneurs and provide supportive environment promoting internationalization of women's small businesses.


It is the author's belief that the findings will support developing a new research agenda to further explore a new dimension of social identity as an important constituent of future theories of internationalization of women‐owned SBs.



Hewapathirana, G.I. (2011), "The role of social identity in internationalization of women‐owned small businesses in Sri Lanka", Journal of Asia Business Studies, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 172-193.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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