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Saudi female innovators as entrepreneurs – theoretical underpinnings

Raija Pini Kemppainen (Dar Al-Hekma University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 12 March 2019

Issue publication date: 4 June 2019




This research is based on a theoretical interest and practical need to examine female actors as entrepreneurs and innovators. The Saudi Vision 2030 emphasizes entrepreneurship, innovation and stronger female participation in the work force. The purpose of this paper is to point to theoretical underpinnings in female entrepreneurial and innovative activity and to examine success factors for female entrepreneurial innovators in the context of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).


The paper is based on secondary data sources. The secondary data in this research were collected from recent academic journals related to female innovation and entrepreneurship. The selected literature represents international and regional (Middle Eastern) research, including research addressing KSA.


Theories are not universal but contextually bound, and Western theories may not directly apply to the KSA context. The late female labor history and gender segregation have not formed an environment similar to the West where innovation has a male connotation and where gender is created or recreated in interaction. The paper suggests gender differences and similarities in innovation as a suitable approach to examine female entrepreneurs and innovators in KSA. While there are similar tendencies between the Saudi and international contexts in regard success factors, KSA inhibits unique factors associated with female entrepreneurs and innovators and their environment.

Research limitations/implications

This research is aimed at academia and offers points to consider for theoretical examination, focusing on the fitness of theory from an economic, social and cultural perspectives. The research may offer knowledge to policymakers and practitioners in the Middle East region and KSA when applying new policies on entrepreneurship and innovation.


The value of the research lies in its timeliness. While there are economic rationales for research on female entrepreneurial innovators, there are theory-related reasons to examine the topic. With the increased interest in research on Saudi female entrepreneurs, academic discussion needs to take a closer look at the context to gain an understanding of how theoretical approaches may or may not transfer across regions.



Kemppainen, R.P. (2019), "Saudi female innovators as entrepreneurs – theoretical underpinnings", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 166-185.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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