Contextual assessment of business exits under a gender lens: A social embeddedness perspective

Abbas, Aisha (2018) Contextual assessment of business exits under a gender lens: A social embeddedness perspective. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2018AbbasPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (3MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis explores the phenomenon of a business exit by analysing its context using gender as a lens. It has employed critical realism as the research ontology, and realist phenomenology as the research methodology. By adopting the social embeddedness perspective as the primary focus, this study substantiates the complexity of structures involved in shaping a business journey and its exit. The entrepreneurial trajectory has been the mode of analysis rather than just the event of 'business exit‘, to provide a holistic understanding of the phenomenon of exit and its position in respondent‘s life.
The study starts by reviewing the intersection of the 'gender in entrepreneurship‘ and 'business exits‘ literature. It indicates that the 'business exit‘ literature is still evolving, and only a limited number of studies have explored the topic qualitatively, within which the concept of 'gender‘ remains largely unexplored. Recently, some studies have sought to develop typologies of business exits; however, this stream of literature has yet to influence the on-going research explicitly as most of the emerging empirical studies exploring business exits still use 'failure‘ and 'closure‘ interchangeably. There is little acknowledgement of the critical distinctions between these concepts. It is particularly misleading when the topic of research is exploring gender around these parameters. The current feminist literature argues that "women businesses do not fail often but have a higher exit rate", so the process of investigation began with an aim to subjectively explore the context behind it.

The first part of the thesis defines a 'business exit‘. A customised typology of business exit trajectories is developed from the research data. These trajectories are then analysed by looking at the intersectionality of multiple socially embedded contextual structures that influenced respondents‘ entrepreneurial journey and their subsequent exit. The study follows a discourse that includes both genders using a post-structural feminist stance. The aim of this gender multiplicity has not been to seek "how one gender is different from other" but rather to seek "how social conditioning of each gender has a direct impact on their entrepreneurial journey and subsequent exit". This approach has revealed gendered social conditioning of both genders which not only highlights the gendered processes across the business course but has also questioned the 'assumed differences‘ from previous studies, by identifying the similarities across the structures. e.g. children, family embeddedness and access to resources which predominantly have been associated with women entrepreneurs only.

In-depth subjective assessment of the sample of 46 former and current entrepreneurs (26 women, 20 men) who exited a business venture they founded indicates a complex interplay of socio-economic, socio-cultural, psycho-social structures and mechanisms shaping up the phenomenon of business exit as experienced by the entrepreneur. Critical realist analysis of the phenomenon has identified underlying causal mechanisms that mediated the entrepreneur‘s exit agency. This research contributes to the business exit literature by developing a categorical schema based on exit motivations, which indicates that the suggested higher exit rates among women entrepreneurs is flawed. Most exited ventures are not an exit from entrepreneurship, as they follow a re-entry trajectory. The findings also contribute to the feminist entrepreneurship literature by identifying micro-social practices that constitute macro-social gendering which affects the entrepreneurial journey and its subsequent exit for both genders.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gender, business exits, exit trajectories, re-entry, exit motivation.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School
Supervisor's Name: Wilson, Prof. Fiona and Mason, Prof. Colin
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Ms Aisha/A Abbas
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30884
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2018 08:45
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2023 11:09
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.30884

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year