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Motivational factors in a push‐pull theory of entrepreneurship

Jodyanne Kirkwood (Department of Management, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 17 July 2009




Entrepreneurial motivations are often defined as fitting into “push” or “pull” categories. To date, research has focused on the factors motivating men and women separately. What is missing from this research is an analysis of the comparative differences in these motivators of men and women, and an exploration of what this means in terms of push‐pull theory. This paper aims to contribute by applying the existing theory on push and pull factors; and using a gender comparative approach to explore the nature of potential gender differences within entrepreneurial motivations.


This exploratory study uses a gender comparative approach in semi‐structured, face‐to‐face interviews with 75 entrepreneurs (28 women and 47 men).


Findings suggest that both women and men appeared similarly motivated by a combination of push and pull factors. Three gender differences were found in the incidence of motivations: women were more influenced by a desire for independence; women considered their children as motivators more so than did men; men were influenced more by job dissatisfaction than were women. The discussion focuses on analysing the nature of gender differences rather than merely their incidence.

Research limitations/implications

A number of further research directions and questions are posed as a way of extending the knowledge in this area. Implications for managers and entrepreneurs are also presented.


Contributes to push‐pull theory by offering a gender comparative approach to advance theory.



Kirkwood, J. (2009), "Motivational factors in a push‐pull theory of entrepreneurship", Gender in Management, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 346-364.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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