AbstractThis thesis reports research into elements of entrepreneurial performance with a particular focus on gender differences and their determinants. Inductive research during the initial literature review uncovered a range of factors affecting performance leading to an investigation of smallholder dairy entrepreneurs in Central Malawi. The primary research utilised a mix of both quantitative and qualitative instruments including innovative use of an adaptation of the ‘circle and stones’ proportional piling instrument. This participatory technique explored changes in the household economy following the introduction of the dairy enterprise, including projecting entrepreneurial intentions into the future. A notable feature of the research was the use of a range of context-specific performance measures developed from an outcomes model. These were both separately applied in a performance ranking exercise, and compiled into an overall performance rating (OPR) which was then compared with the initial post-interview field performance rating (FPR). The research involved extensive use of internal and external triangulation of information sources, comparing results from different instruments in the field research, and situating and comparing primary research findings with those from the academic literature and analysis of secondary data. Despite controlling for factors including industry-type, size of enterprise, provision of business and extension support, and taking into account differences in age and educational background, the research uncovered gender disparities in entrepreneurial performance. The performance disparity was greater for those females who are the de facto head of their households, and lesser for those who have the support of a resident male partner. The finding of female underperformance runs contrary to the a priori expectation of industry key informants in Malawi, and much of the academic literature. The research included exploration of risk mitigation strategies and their potential effect on entrepreneurial performance, as possible explanatory factors. Follow-on fieldwork then sought alternative explanations for the gender differentials through focus group discussions and key informant interviews, which uncovered time constraints of females as a potential factor in underperformance. Future research direction indicated includes an in-depth exploration of the intra-household dynamics of time allocation in managing enterprises.
PublisherUniversity of Derby
TypeThesis or dissertation
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