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The role of export promotion programs in the internationalisation of female-owned enterprises: An exploratory study

Gitte Ohrt Rosenbaum (Department of Marketing and Management, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 20 August 2019

Issue publication date: 20 August 2019




While the role of government-funded export promotion programs (EPPs) on the international activities of small ventures has been previously documented, they do not appear to have been hitherto studied in a gendered context. This is unfortunate given the evidence suggesting growing numbers of female entrepreneurs with strong international orientation. Thus, this study aims to provide a better understanding of the experiences and practices of women entrepreneurs with regard to EPPs.


This study is based on personal interviews with eight female-owned international entrepreneurial ventures in the fashion design industry in Denmark. A qualitative research design was used to explore the experiences of the women entrepreneurs regarding different types of EPPs and their various providers, and the data were analysed and interpreted using the NVivo software program.


The results show that while the level of awareness of EPPs was generally high, the programs were overwhelmingly perceived to be overly expensive, excessively time-consuming, insufficiently specific and largely irrelevant. When the women business owners had availed themselves of their services, the usefulness of the EPPs was deemed to be largely imperceptible. Plausible explanations for these results may be found in the gendered entrepreneurial literature. The study’s findings provide important gendered insights to government support agencies charged with promoting the internationalisation of female-owned small businesses.


This study presents novel gendered findings of the experiences of female entrepreneurs regarding the role played by EPPs in the growth of their firms on international markets. It contributes to the literature on the growing phenomenon of female international entrepreneurs.



Rosenbaum, G.O. (2019), "The role of export promotion programs in the internationalisation of female-owned enterprises: An exploratory study", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 323-347.



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