Work-life boundary management styles of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia – “choice” or imposition?

Konjit Hailu Gudeta (Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands) (College of Business and Economics, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Marloes L. van Engen (Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Publication date: 18 June 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the work-life boundary management experiences and challenges women entrepreneurs face in combining their work-life responsibilities.

Design/methodology/approach

In-depth interviews were conducted with 31 women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia using a grounded theory approach to investigate how they manage the boundaries between their work-life roles, the challenges they face and how these challenges affect their boundary management experiences.

Findings

Integration, as a work-life boundary management strategy, is imposed on women as a result of normative expectations on women to shoulder care and household responsibilities, as well as to fulfil societal roles and obligations. In addition, challenges related to managing employees at home and at work frequently require women to combine work and life roles, forcing them to integrate even more.

Practical implications

The findings of this study underline the need to recognise the work-life interface challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and to develop programmes and hands-on training to help them adopt work-life boundary management tactics. In addition, it is hoped that the findings will inform policies and women entrepreneurship development programmes designed by the government, development partners and other stakeholders.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the work-family literature by highlighting the contextual and environmental factors imposing work-family boundary management styles on women entrepreneurs in the Sub-Saharan country of Ethiopia.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the Netherlands organisation for international cooperation in higher education (Nuffic) for the research grant of NICHE project ETH-020 (capacity development of business and economics) to the first author. The authors would also like to thank the participants in the study and Dr Jennifer E. Jennings for her comments as a friendly reviewer on an earlier version of this paper.

Citation

Gudeta, K.H. and van Engen, M.L. (2018), "Work-life boundary management styles of women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia – “choice” or imposition?", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 368-386. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-02-2017-0073

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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