Gender differences in entrepreneurial propensity: evidence from matrilineal and patriarchal societies

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We examine whether men and women in patriarchal and matrilineal societies differ in their propensity to engage in entrepreneurship. We conduct two studies. Study 1 involves face-to-face interviews to identify individuals who are in the process of starting a new business. We find that men in patriarchal societies are more likely than women to initiate action to start a new business. This result, however, is reversed in matrilineal societies, where women are more likely than men to do so. The results of causal mediation tests suggest that entrepreneurial self-efficacy and fear of business failure explain the gender gap in both societies. Study 2 involves a controlled experiment in the lab that captures individuals’ willingness to invest in the creation of a new venture. The results of the experiments are consistent with the survey data: men in patriarchal societies and women in matrilineal societies invest more in new venture creation in a simulated environment. We therefore rule out the simplistic view that women are inherently less likely to enter into entrepreneurship due to innate differences across genders. Rather, gender differences in entrepreneurial propensity are outcome of socialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-779
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Entrepreneurial propensity
  • Gender
  • Matrilineal and patriarchal societies

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