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Does gender make a difference in business performance? Evidence from a large enterprise survey data of India

Jabir Ali (Institute of Cooperative and Corporate Management, Research and Training (ICCMRT), Lucknow, India)
Sana Shabir (Department of Management Studies, Central University of Kashmir, Srinagar, India)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




This paper aims toanalyse the difference in business performance and obstacles across male-owned versus female-owned enterprises in India.


This study is based on a comprehensive enterprise survey of 9,281 Indian firms operating in different regions of the country, conducted under the World Bank’s Enterprise Survey, 2014. The survey contains information on a variety of enterprise characteristics such as ownership, type of firms, size of firms, locations and age, performance indicators and information on 16 parameters of business obstacles. Business performance indicators have been derived from data in the form of growth in sales, employment, labour productivity and capability utilization by gender ownership of the firms. Simple statistical tools such as descriptive statistics, chi-square test and the independent-samples t-test have been used to analyse the data. Further, an ordered probit regression model has been estimated to identify the relative importance of parameters affecting female-owned enterprises.


Of the total 9,281 firms surveyed under the World Bank’s Enterprise Survey, about 8 per cent were being managed by a top female manager and about 15 per cent firms reported to have at least one female owner. Among the female owners, about 36 per cent were reported to own 50 per cent and above share of the firm. Chi-square statistics indicate that there is a significant difference in enterprise characteristics of male- versus female-owned firms in terms of location, size, type and age. Result of the independent-samples t-test indicates a significant difference in business performance across male- and female-owned businesses in terms of annual sales growth, labour productivity growth and capacity utilization of the firms. Similarly, the perception of male- and female-owned firms significantly vary on 10 obstacles out of total 16 business obstacle parameters. Overall, females perceive comparatively less business obstacles as compared to males. An ordered probit regression model has revealed the relative importance of enterprise characteristics, performance indicators and extent of business obstacles among female-owned enterprises.

Practical implications

This study provides an insight on the differences in the firms’ performance across gender ownership based on a large survey data. This study can be helpful in designing policies for promoting gender-based business enterprises in a focused manner.


There are limited empirical evidences on difference in organizational profile, business performance and understanding business obstacles across male- versus female-owned firms in India based on a large survey data.



Earlier version of the paper was presented in the 57th Annual Conference Indian Society of Labour Economics at Central University of Srinagar, Kashmir during 10-12 October, 2015. The authors are thankful to the conference participants for their invaluable comments and feedback.


Ali, J. and Shabir, S. (2017), "Does gender make a difference in business performance? Evidence from a large enterprise survey data of India", Gender in Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 218-233.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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