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The salient role of institutions in Women’s entrepreneurship: a critical review and agenda for future research


Institutions play an important role in women’s and men’s entrepreneurial behaviors. This article provides a systematic review of institutions and women’s entrepreneurship literature through an institutional lens, with a particular focus on informal and formal institutions. The article sets out to explore institutions for women’s entrepreneurship, illustrating why having an institutional perspective of women’s entrepreneurship contributes to a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. To reach this aim, we analyze and classify the scholarship by explanatory factors and type of informal and formal institutions. The article suggests that gender roles, as an informal institution, influence the creation of both informal and formal institutions, and in turn, the women’s entrepreneurial behaviors is based on gender roles. Finally, a theoretical model is developed, which allocates women’s entrepreneurship in the center and shows the role of institutional environment in their decision to start new ventures. Implications for future research are finally discussed.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Acker 1992a, b, p.597) suggests that gendered institutions means that “gender is present in the processes, practices, images and ideologies and distribution of power in the various sector of social life”.

  2. 2.

    We omitted books, book chapters and non-refereed publications. According to Podsakoff et al. (2005) journal articles are considered validated knowledge and the impact on the field are higher than other types of publications.

  3. 3.

    We also included articles from “International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship” that is journal without impact factor journal.

  4. 4.

    Besides that English is the common language of academic publications, there is a probability that there are valuables articles in other languages which may be excluded. Therefore, the sample may be biased toward an Anglo-Saxon approach, we follow the same selection criterion as Claus and Briscoe (2009) in order to maintain the scope of the project manageable and within extend of the authors. We also focused on only articles already published because it serves a quality check, reduces the complexity and low quality articles (Pukall and Calabrò 2014; Newbert 2007). Following Podsakoff et al. (2005), we classified and revised only articles from peer-reviewed journals and journal with Journal Citation Factor (JIF) in order to ensure scientific quality and reputation in the field.

  5. 5.

    Schumpeter classifies individuals to pursue the desire of independence and observe an opportunity in the market as opportunity-driven individuals. Individuals might also be necessity-driven when individuals do not have other options in the traditional labor market and they have no other choice than starting their businesses.


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Giménez, D., Calabrò, A. The salient role of institutions in Women’s entrepreneurship: a critical review and agenda for future research. Int Entrep Manag J 14, 857–882 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-017-0480-5

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  • Women entrepreneurs
  • Female
  • Gender
  • Formal and informal institutions
  • New ventures
  • Institutional change