‘In the company of cheerful ladies’: whether female entrepreneurs are more productive?

Tomasz Mickiewicz, Bach Nguyen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After over two decades, the debate on the female underperformance hypothesis remains not concluded. This study sheds some new light on the hypothesis by (i) showing that surrounding institutional forces play an important role in determining how female businesses perform and (ii) arguing that to understand gender differences (or lack of those) in performance, we need to look at productivity alongside profitability, revenues, and growth. Specifically, we posit that, in certain developing countries, female entrepreneurs devise specific strategies to cope with challenging institutional contexts. In such contexts, female entrepreneurs have less opportunity to realize economic rents compared to males, but they respond to these constraints by becoming more efficient in resource use through relying on female employment. Investigating a large set of longitudinal data from Vietnam, we find that female businesses are more productive than male businesses, and that this effect is stronger when female owner-managers employ more female employees, or even female employees only. However, we also find that these positive effects are weakened with increased corruption. This provides important implications for female entrepreneurs and policymakers in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSmall Business Economics
Early online date17 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


  • Developing economies
  • Emerging market economies
  • Female entrepreneurship
  • Gender inequality
  • Productivity
  • Vietnam


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