Relationally reflexive women: Household strategies of female entrepreneurs as social change

Elina Meliou, Tim Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building on research that favors a view of entrepreneurship as social change the study explores the actions of female entrepreneurs facing life discontinuities as examples of entrepreneurship. Despite increase in numbers, women still face structural inequalities in accessing entrepreneurial opportunities. We focus on understanding their experiences and how they negotiate the gendered structures in order to set up new ventures, paying particular attention to the family, occupational and household nexus. We conceive their actions through Archer’s work on “reflexivity”, which is the process mediating the effects of our circumstances upon our actions. We identify three household strategies that female entrepreneurs engage with during moments of life discontinuities in order to overcome the gendered structures they experience and set up a business: “leverage relationships”, “repair relationships” and “maintain relationships”. These strategies highlight female entrepreneurs’ agency as they have the power to implement practices they deem appropriate for their lives and become successful. The theoretical frame and empirical data analysis presented in this article challenges the individualism that permeates normative entrepreneurship research and indicates how female entrepreneurs are active and at the same time pragmatic in in the way they conduct business. Entrepreneurship is this instance is a response to social instability.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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