Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

The Role of Control in Entrepreneurial Growth: An alternative explanation

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

Topic: This paper explores growth in female-owned entrepreneurial firms, arguing that a particular form of socialization – namely patriarchal dominance – may influence women’s business growth ambitions. We argue that the lower rates of women’s business growth may be related to risk aversion and lower self-efficacy both of which, according to Power Control Theory (PCT) are a result of patriarchal control in one’s formative years (Grasmick et al 1996). This is not to say that women alone experience this phenomenon, but that girls are more likely to be subject to patriarchal control,
as long as they are viewed as more vulnerable than boys. Given that PCT deals with how risk-taking/adverse behaviour originates, it may have an application value in entrepreneurship. The gender gap in risk-taking has been addressed from
various perspectives in the past 30 years, however, little effort has been made to investigate the underlying gender differences in mechanisms that enhance or reduce risk-taking behaviour.

Aim: This paper develops a theoretical framework for understanding the role of control in entrepreneurship. We explore power-control theory (PCT) as a social cognitive tool for understanding risk-related behaviours of entrepreneurs and use this theory to link self-efficacy to the exercise of personal control. Extending findings from social learning theory to entrepreneurship and drawing on PCT, we suggest that women’s suggested lower growth aspirations have socialized origins. Based on PCT, we argue this may be a result of socialization in the family, and responses to patriarchal dominance. Taking our departure in a social feminist perspective (Calas et al, 2009) we recognize that differences in socialization produce systematic variations in entrepreneurial patterns of men and women (Hurley 1999). Differences in experiences from birth, due to boys and girls being socialized differently, result in different ways of perceiving opportunities and interacting differently with the world. Neither is innately superior or inferior but it is important to acknowledge and identify socially produced gender differences and explore their implications for concrete

Methodology: We apply a critical realist ontology to develop a research framework for understanding the role of risk, control and self-efficacy in determining entrepreneurial growth. We will collect data through an online questionnaire, including both men and women from entrepreneurship associations and networks in Denmark and the UK. Both of these are advanced economies and therefore associated with greater gender gaps in entrepreneurial qualities (Mueller, 2004). Whilst these two countries are
similar on many counts, there are still important cultural differences in how girls and boys are socialized in the family.

Contribution: We develop a research framework for testing propositions concerning the role of power-control in the family and the spillover effects that PCT has on entrepreneurial growth. We extend PCT into the entrepreneurship domain and offer new insights on gendered societal structures and their impact on business growth. We anticipate that our research will offer alternative explanations for business growth and highlight the value of using a social feminist epistemology in gender and
entrepreneurship research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year8 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2017
EventISBE 2017: ‘Borders’, prosperity and entrepreneurial responses - Ulster University, Belfast, Ireland
Duration: 8 Nov 20179 Nov 2017
Conference number: 40


ConferenceISBE 2017
LocationUlster University
Internet address

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