What do Women Entrepreneurs Want

(with Tatiana S. Manolova, Linda F. Edelman)


Strategic Change




Women are the majority owners in 30% of all privately held firms in the United States. These firms have $2.5 trillion in revenues and employ 19.1 million individuals. However, despite the large number of women business owners, little is known about the motivations that women have for starting their own firms. This study uses an expectancy theory framework to examine the differences in motivations to start a firm between men and women. We propose that nascent entrepreneurs expend effort toward the creation of a new venture because they believe this will lead to a set of desired outcomes. We further argue that the desired outcomes of new venture creation differ by sex. Hypotheses are tested using data from the phone surveys of the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics (n = 441). Our findings indicate that there are significant differences in motivations for starting a new business, with men being motivated by financial gains, self- realization, and autonomy, whereas for women status is an additional significant motivating factor. Our results confirm the explanatory power of expectancy theory in examining entrepreneurial start-up motivations.


Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Other Business | Social Psychology

Recommended Citation

Manolova, Tatiana S., Candida G. Brush, and Linda F. Edelman. 2008. “What do Women Entrepreneurs Want?” Strategic Change Journal 17, no 3-4: 69-82.

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