Explaining Women’s Level of Involvement in Nascent Entrepreneurial Activities –The Non-linear Role of R&D Investments in Different OECD Countries

Maalaoui, Adnane
Gaies, Brahim
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Acknowledging that “There is perhaps no greater initiative a country can take to accelerate its pace of entrepreneurial activity than to encourage more of its women to participate” (Reynolds, Camp, Bygrave, Autio, & Hay, 2001: 5), our study is interested in explaining women’s level of involvement in nascent entrepreneurial activities in different countries. It has been argued, “Institutional theory may be a particularly apt framework for addressing national contexts shaping entrepreneurial activity” (Baughn et al., 2006: 688). Indeed, structural characteristic of a given country could explain why there are consistent differences in the levels of entrepreneurial activity in different countries (Reynolds et al., 2003). While we do not lack empirical studies about the importance of different regulative, normative, and cognitive institutions, we still know relatively little about one important regulatory institution, namely the level of R&D investments, and its role in explaining women’s level of involvement in nascent entrepreneurial activities. Since the first lessons of endogenous growth theory (Aghion and Howitt,1992; Romer, 1994), innovation has been considered as one of the main sources of economic development. Innovation should ensure higher productivity gain, develop new business opportunities and, hence promote self-employment. Yet, findings of empirical studies on the linkages between innovation and levels of entrepreneurial activity remain somewhat ambiguous. In some cases (e.g. Wennekers et al., 2002; Anokhin & Wincent, 2012) scholars have observed a positive relationship between small firms and innovation, while in other cases a negative link (e.g. EIM/ENSR, 1996, 1997; Parker, 2009; Arin et al., 2015). These negative results are usually attributed to important run-up costs of research and development (R&D) related to innovation activities, which, in turn, makes R&D investments an enormous hurdle for entrepreneurial activities. Because relatively less attention has been paid to the constraining or empowering role of R&D investments in explaining women’s level of involvement in nascent entrepreneurial activities, in this study our main objective is to explore conceptual arguments and empirically test them about the effects of R&D investments on the relative rates of female nascent entrepreneurs in different countries.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, gender, innovation, quantitative, r&d, women
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