The paper aims to clarify how a gendered analysis of entrepreneurial networks may benefit by the use of a constructionist (post‐structuralist) perspective.
The paper makes use of a discourse analysis: first, the paper reviews a selection of empirical research articles from 1980 to 2008 on gender and networks in entrepreneurship research in order to convey the main research question, the hypotheses, the methodology and the main findings. Second, the paper identifies in a broader literature the hegemonic statements that characterize the discourse of gender and networks.
The main findings of the studies reviewed is that there are no major differences in the networks of female and male entrepreneurs. Research on the significance of gender for entrepreneurial success indicates that there is probably more variation within than between sex categories with regard to network activities. This may be an indication that empiricist feminism and standpoint feminism have outplayed their role as approaches to the study of gender and networks in entrepreneurial settings. The discourse analysis reveals five hegemonic statements: entrepreneurs use social networks strategically, women are disadvantaged compared to men and therefore cannot network effectively, weak ties are the source of men's success; strong ties are women's drawback and, finally, women are inherently relational.
Methodologically, the current status of research on networks, gender and entrepreneurship demonstrates that most of the knowledge is gained through cross‐sectional surveys. Typically, the majority of studies on entrepreneurship, due to the methods chosen, does not allow for first‐hand, real and authentic experiences of entrepreneurial lives. Acknowledging the presence of the speaker can be done in various ways. Entrepreneurs may reveal their thoughts, their experience and reflections only if the relationship between the researcher and the researched is symmetrical. Narrative approaches are suggested in order to “tap” the voice – and thus the stories – of the acting entrepreneurs.
Theoretically, the discourse is limited by the lack of an explicit “gendered” perspective. The analysis of the texts reveals an implicit empiricist feminist approach, resulting in networks and entrepreneurship as well as gender and networks being portrayed in a very special and limited way.
The findings of the discursive approach to research texts on gender and entrepreneurial networks, is that the discourse is limited with regard to both theory and method. This paper has shown that the discourse in the research field is limited, and that the field needs to be challenged by other disciplinary procedures regulating what counts as knowledge.
Foss, L. (2010), "Research on entrepreneur networks: The case for a constructionist feminist theory perspective", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 83-102. https://doi.org/10.1108/17566261011026565Download as .RIS
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