Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Daphne Halkias

Abstract

Women entrepreneurs are emerging in the national economy as important players, yet gender bias and stereotypes still exist in organizations that prevent firms from taking advantage of women’s potential as leaders in entrepreneurial ventures. At the same time, traditional leadership models are lacking in diversity and unanswered questions remain regarding the role of gender in entrepreneurial leadership and enterprise sustainability. The purpose of this qualitative study, which used an exploratory, multiple-case research design, was to gain insight into the leadership practices of women entrepreneurial leaders and the implications of these practices for enterprise longevity 5 years after their business’s start-up phase. This study is framed by, first, the concept of the entrepreneurial leader and, second the intersectionality of gender and entrepreneurial leadership. Semistructured interviews with 9 participants, observational field notes, and archival data provided data regarding the leadership experiences of women entrepreneurs and enterprise longevity of women-led firms. Identifiable themes emerged through thematic analysis of the textual data and cross-case synthesis analysis. A total of 7 conceptual categories that enclose a total of 12 themes were identified. The conceptual categories are (a) gender, (b) entrepreneurial leadership, (c) market, (d) money, (e) management skills, (f) macro environment, and (g) meso environment. Findings from this study may serve as a catalyst for social change by challenging the status quo in existing formal work structures and promoting diversity in the workplace, opening new avenues for business growth and building bridges of communication between the business world and society.

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