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Does gender affect business ‘performance’? A study of microbusinesses in business services in the UK

Chell, Elizabeth and Baines, Susan (2014) Does gender affect business ‘performance’? A study of microbusinesses in business services in the UK. ISSN 1464-5114

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Abstract

There is a dearth of studies that have examined the issue of the impact of gender on business performance. Three problems are evident in this earlier work:(1) the need to expose theoretical assumptions; (2) the adequacy of methodologies adopted; and (3) apparent equivocal results. A theme running through much of this work is whether the concept of ‘performance’ is itself gendered. This paper confines itself to addressing three research questions in respect of the impact of gender of business owner on business performance. The field data comprise a sample of 104 microbusinesses in business services in two locations-Newcastle upon Tyne and Milton Keynes, in the UK. The results show (1) no significant difference between the performance of the businesses of sole male and sole female owners, (2) clear evidence of the underperformance of spouse-owned businesses, (3) no support for the hypothesis that women have an ‘integrated approach’ to their business and personal lives (in contrast to men), and (4) evidence that cultural presuppositions about gender roles were most clearly demonstrated in the spouse-owned businesses.

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