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Breaking the “Bamboo Curtain” and the “Glass Ceiling”: The Experience of Women Entrepreneurs in High-Tech Industries in an Emerging Market

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Abstract

Despite the role women play in job creation, economic growth and society revitalization, especially in economies undergoing fundamental transformations, issues emerging from women in entrepreneurship have not received adequate attention in academic research. As a result, our understanding of women entrepreneurship in emerging markets as well as in nontraditional industries is even more limited. In this study, I attempt to partially fill the gap by comparing entrepreneurial orientations and venture performance between men and women entrepreneurs in electronics industry in Chinese transition economy. I offer insights gained from statistical analyses based on a survey as well as case study. Results reveal that while women are influenced by the same factors that affect decision making among men and exhibit some similarities, they differ from men in their willingness to take more risks and make bolder moves in pursuit of greater returns and future competitive advantage. In addition, women entrepreneurs outperform their male counterparts. I compare these findings with existing literature and offer suggestions for future research.

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Acknowledgement

Preliminary results were presented at China CEO Club and Women Executive Training Program at Peking University. Feedback from participants is appreciated. This article was completed while the author was the US Fulbright Distinguished Professor (China Program) from 2005 to 2006. Support from the Fulbright Foundation, the US State Department and US Embassy in China is gratefully acknowledged. Institutional support from the Guanghua School of Management at the Peking University and Nankai Business School at Nankai University are also much appreciated. All views and opinions are entirely my own.

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Correspondence to Justin Tan.

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Justin Tan is Professor and the Newmont Chair in Business Strategy in the Schulich School of Business at York University in Canada. He is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in China. His research has been appeared in academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, among others. He serves as editor, associate editor, guest editor, and reviewer for most leading management journals. His research has been supported by Ford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, among others.

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Tan, J. Breaking the “Bamboo Curtain” and the “Glass Ceiling”: The Experience of Women Entrepreneurs in High-Tech Industries in an Emerging Market. J Bus Ethics 80, 547–564 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-007-9454-9

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