Women Entrepreneurs in the Indian Informal Sector: Marginalisation Dynamics or Institutional Rational Choice?
International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 3, No.1, pp. 6-22, 2011
17 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2011
Purpose -- Studies on women entrepreneurs either read women through a structuralist lens as marginalised populations engaged in low quality work or through a neo-liberal lens as engaged in relatively higher quality endeavour more as a rational choice. The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically these various explanations in relation to the informal sector women entrepreneurs in India.
Design/methodology/approach -- To evaluate the contrasting explanations of structuralist and new liberal approaches, questionnaire surveys were conducted in two phases, namely 2007 and 2010, over a period of several months. The sample design was stratified random and the sample was taken from a range of cities in different parts of India. Findings -- Survey of 457 women entrepreneurs of the informal sector show that although the structuralist representation is largely appropriate for women working as waged informal employees, it is not so valid for women informal entrepreneurs working on a self-employed basis. The results challenge the traditional understanding of the informal sector, and women self employed in particular, and are discussed in the light of the institutional rational choice framework.
Research limitations/implications -- The analysis highlights how the decision of entrepreneurship does not stand in isolation from other decisions and choices, is in line with normative considerations, and is a collective rational choice for the informal sector women entrepreneurs. This analysis is a first of its kind and calls for additional surveys to be undertaken of women (and men) informal entrepreneurs in other countries to establish this thought.
Originality/value -- The analysis critically evaluates established explanations in relation to the informal sector women entrepreneurs through an empirical survey and establishes new explanations on women entrepreneurship.
Keywords: self employed women, entrepreneurship, informal economy, institutional rational choice, India
JEL Classification: H26, J46, J48, K34, K42, O17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation