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Innovation and the performance of informal enterprises in developing countries: a gender perspective

Elvis Korku Avenyo (Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED) and DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Industrial Development, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Erika Kraemer-Mbula (DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 19 June 2021

Issue publication date: 27 October 2021

355

Abstract

Purpose

Examining the impact of gender on various aspects of business performance has gained research and policy traction, although the empirical evidence remains inconclusive. This paper aims to focus on one type of business, namely, informal enterprises and one dimension of business performance, namely, product innovation, to better understand how product innovations affect employment in both female- and male-owned informal enterprises.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper relies on a unique data set of 513 informal enterprises located in two urban centres in Ghana (Accra and Tema), covering the period between 2013 and 2015 and the Dose-Response Model to examine the effect of product innovations on employment in informal enterprises in urban Ghana.

Findings

The findings suggest that product innovation has considerable beneficial impacts on the creation of employment in informal enterprises. The results do not show systematic differences in the factors affecting product innovation in female- and male-owned enterprises. However, they suggest that although female-owned enterprises are less likely to introduce product innovations, they do sell more innovative products.

Originality/value

These findings support the view that innovation is “gendered”, and therefore, requires a “gendered” policy lens.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the editor and three anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. Special thanks to the South African Research Chair in Industrial Development (SARChI), University of Johannesburg for immeasurable support. We would also like to thank all the participants at the Development Studies Association Conference on ‘Opening up Development’, The Open University (June 2019), South African Research Chair in Industrial Development Seminar series, and Tommaso Ciarli (SPRU) for their constructive remarks and comments on earlier versions of the paper. All errors remain ours. All errors remain ours. Funding: This work has been done with support from the Open Africa Innovation Research (OpenAIR) partnership. Open AIR is carried out with financial support from the International Development Research Centre, Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and Queen Elizabeth Scholars Program.

Citation

Avenyo, E.K. and Kraemer-Mbula, E. (2021), "Innovation and the performance of informal enterprises in developing countries: a gender perspective", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 277-301. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJGE-11-2020-0174

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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