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Female Entrepreneurship in Africa: Relationships between SWT and P-A Theory, Behavioural Economics Insights

Enterprise and Economic Development in Africa

ISBN: 978-1-80071-323-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-322-2

Publication date: 11 June 2021


Within developing countries, particularly in Africa, there is an emerging literature which highlights the unique obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs who start and develop their own businesses (De Vita, Mari, & Poggesi, 2014; Jamali, 2009; Minniti & Naude, 2010; Naude & Havenga, 2005; Nziku & Struthers, 2018). A key objective of this chapter is to critically appraise some of the conceptual approaches adopted in this literature. In so doing, the authors revisit a seminal paper first developed by Granovetter (1973) which suggested that female entrepreneurs, instead of being disadvantaged by the so-called ‘weak ties’ that bind their business networks, actually enjoy compensating benefits which Granovetter referred to as the strength of weak ties (SWT). Building on the conceptual work of Nziku and Struthers (2018) which developed an innovative taxonomy for analysing the SWT concept within a Principal-Agent (P-A) paradigm, the chapter will set out new insights which challenge some of the assumptions of the extant entrepreneurship literature. In particular, that women are inherently more risk averse in their business decision making than men. The theoretical context for this will be derived from a behavioural economics methodology first developed by Kahneman and Tversky (1979). They introduced the concept of loss aversion as a more realistic approach to attitudes towards risk on the part of entrepreneurs than risk aversion. The chapter contends that the loss aversion perspective may be more appropriate to the decision-making frame adopted by female entrepreneurs, especially in the context of Africa as well as in other developing regions of the world. The chapter will therefore suggest that such an approach can yield fresh insights on the topic of female entrepreneurship which the extant literature heretofore has not addressed, though this will have to be subsequently tested empirically.



Struthers, J. and Nziku, D.M. (2021), "Female Entrepreneurship in Africa: Relationships between SWT and P-A Theory, Behavioural Economics Insights", Nziku, D.M. and Struthers, J.J. (Ed.) Enterprise and Economic Development in Africa, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 81-100.



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