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Bounded Entrepreneurial Vitality: The Mixed Embeddedness of Female Entrepreneurship

Thilde Langevang, Katherine V. Gough, Paul W. K. Yankson, George Owusu and Robert Osei ()

Economic Geography, 2015, vol. 91, issue 4, 449-473

Abstract: Despite the recent increased interest in female entrepreneurs, attention has tended to focus on dynamic individuals and generic incentives without considering the roles of gender and place in entrepreneurship. In this article, we draw on the notion of mixed embeddedness to explore how time-and-place–specific institutional contexts influence women’s entrepreneurship. Drawing on primary data collected in Ghana, where exceptionally more women engage in entrepreneurial activities than men, we examine the scale and characteristics of female entrepreneurial activity, exploring the factors that account for this strong participation of women, and examine whether this high entrepreneurial rate is also reflected in their performance and growth aspirations. The findings reveal a disjuncture between, on the one hand, the vibrant entrepreneurial endeavors of Ghanaian women and positive societal attitudes toward female entrepreneurship and, on the other hand, female business activities characterized by vulnerability and relatively low achievement. The article shows how regulatory, normative, and cultural–cognitive institutional forces, which have been transformed over time by local and global processes and their interaction, are concomitantly propelling and impeding women’s entrepreneurial activities. We propose that the study of female entrepreneurs within economic geography could be advanced by analyzing the differing effects of the complex, multiple, and shifting layers of institutional contexts in which they are embedded.

Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1111/ecge.12092

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