Female Entrepreneurship and the Metanarrative of Economic Growth: A Critical Review of Underlying Assumptions

26 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019

See all articles by Hannah Dean

Hannah Dean

University of Leeds - Leeds University Business School (LUBS)

Gretchen Larsen

Durham University Business School

Jackie Ford

Durham Business School

Muhammad Akram

Durham Business School

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

This critical review of the literature on female entrepreneurship problematizes the metanarrative of economic growth and the mechanisms through which it both operates and is maintained. Central to this is the axiomatic ‘underperformance hypothesis’, which states that ‘all else being equal, female entrepreneurs tend to be less successful than their male counterparts in terms of conventional economic performance measures’ (Du Rietz and Henrekson (2000, p. 1). As an axiom, the truth of the ‘underperformance hypothesis’ is taken for granted, and thus it invisibly serves as a starting point, delimiter and interpretive lens for analysis in this field. While it remains invisible, the hypothesis will continue to reproduce the differences between male and female entrepreneurs, and thus the subordination of women to men in the realm of entrepreneurship. The review illustrates how, by associating females with underperformance, the persistent influence of the metanarrative of economic growth has been masked and the image of the female entrepreneur as problematic and inferior to her male counterpart has been reinforced. The authors argue that a postmodern feminist epistemology will destabilize both the metanarrative of economic growth, and the axiomatic ‘underperformance hypothesis’ it supports, thus opening up space for a heterogeneous understanding of (female) entrepreneurship. By questioning accepted knowledge about female entrepreneurs, the review sets the platform for the exploration of new research questions and a broad agenda for future research. Such an agenda is crucial in order to move future research beyond the pervasive influence of the metanarrative of economic growth and its attendant underperformance hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

Dean, Hannah and Larsen, Gretchen and Ford, Jackie and Akram, Muhammad, Female Entrepreneurship and the Metanarrative of Economic Growth: A Critical Review of Underlying Assumptions (January 2019). International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 21, Issue 1, pp. 24-49, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3326056 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12173

Hannah Dean (Contact Author)

University of Leeds - Leeds University Business School (LUBS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Gretchen Larsen

Durham University Business School

Mill Hill Lane
Durham, DH1 3LB
United Kingdom

Jackie Ford

Durham Business School

Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3LB
United Kingdom

Muhammad Akram

Durham Business School

Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3LB
United Kingdom

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