Gender and entrepreneurial success: A cross cultural study of competencies of female SMEs operators in South Africa

Bridget Irene

Research output: Thesis (awarded by external institution)Doctoral Thesis

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This cross-cultural study investigates the link between business success and entrepreneurial competencies in female-owned SMEs in South Africa. The study seeks to identify sets of behaviours that delineate competencies among South African female entrepreneurs. It aims to develop a model of gender and culture-specific competencies for incorporation into intervention programs for entrepreneurial development. A “mixed-method” approach, conducted in two parts, was adopted for this study. Study 1 was qualitative: 50 individual interviews with 50 female entrepreneurs were conducted. 10 focus group discussions with 78 entrepreneurs were completed. The purpose was to identify gender (female) and context (South African) specific behaviours that delineate entrepreneurial competencies. 12 competency domains were identified by thematic analysis of the qualitative data consistent with existing entrepreneurial competency models. New behaviours were identified (with no new domains identified), and grouped under existing competency domains. This shows that existing models offer some cross-cultural generalisability. These newly identified behaviours suggest a possible need to revise the existing competency models to augment their relevance to entrepreneurial competency measurements in different contexts. Study 2 was quantitative: 780 entrepreneurs completed a 6-part questionnaire. Data collection and preliminary assumption testing involved defining the psychometric elements of the dependent variables and covariates. The sample consisted of 785 female entrepreneurs from 4 different South African provinces. The survey instrument was a structured questionnaire. Results found that competencies had a major influence on the business success of female South African SME operators. The results demonstrate that self-reported competencies can predict business success in female-owned South African SMEs. The findings were largely consistent with existing models, but behavioural differences defined different competency domains, possibly associated with cultural differences.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
Award date1 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2016


  • Entrepreneurial success
  • women entrepreneurs
  • SMMEs
  • Cultural differences


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