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Entrepreneurial growth strategies: the female touch

Kristin Reichborn-Kjennerud (Work Research Institute, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway)
Helge Svare (Work Research Institute, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 3 June 2014




Research on entrepreneurship has documented differences in male and female entrepreneurs' growth ambitions. It has sometimes been criticized for disregarding important questions and contributions and for favoring a purely economic perspective. This includes a tendency to compare female entrepreneurs with a male norm. In this article, the authors, therefore, apply a more constructive approach and ask how and why entrepreneurial strategies are gendered. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


By analysing six cases, three female- and three male-dominated companies, the authors examined how men and women do business. The authors based the analysis on Miles and Snow's typology on product and market strategy and at the same time expanded it.


The findings substantiated that women and men have similar qualities as entrepreneurs, but women's ambitions and values tend to be different to those espoused by men. This influences their growth strategies. The Miles and Snow typology was adjusted to encompass different growth strategies; staying small or expanding. The article discusses the implications of these findings for regional development and sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

The research design in this article does not necessarily allow the authors to grasp the internal workings of a typical small- or medium-sized business. Neither does it provide generalizable information. Instead, the authors chose to focus on highly gendered sectors of industry to identify potential gender differences.


This article contributes to theory on the motivation for entrepreneurship and to research on growth strategies. It also contributes to the literature on Miles and Snow's typology questioning the taken-for-granted goal of growth in economic theories and raising the question of advantages of the choice of staying small. The authors direct the focus to perspectives of embeddedness and intersectionality as a direction for future research.



The authors are grateful to the interviewees and informants who provided information to the project that this article builds on. Furthermore, the authors acknowledge the funder; the VRI Telemark programme for regional research. The authors also acknowledge the women's network in the programme; Gry Alsos, Elisabeth Ljunggren, Lene Foss, Trine Kvidal, Nina Amble, May-Britt Ellingsen and Ragnhild Holmen Waldahl.


Reichborn-Kjennerud, K. and Svare, H. (2014), "Entrepreneurial growth strategies: the female touch", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 181-199.



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