Abstract

Autonomy is important for entrepreneurs (Rauch & Frese, 2007). However, power holders at household and at societal levels act as “gatekeepers” of resources, who impact the entrepreneurial autonomy of women (Brush 2009). This becomes evident in Ethiopia, where the level of women entrepreneurship in the formal economy remains low despite government initiatives to improve the position of women. For example, fear of domestic violence (Kedir & Admasachew 2010) restrains women’s autonomy in financial decision making and restricts participation in network opportunities for women entrepreneurs. This study explores how women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia perceive their sociocultural context to be either supporting or undermining autonomy in their entrepreneurial activity. We draw on Self Determination Theory (SDT) which states that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy are the nutriments for experiencing autonomy or volition in the activities people undertake (Deci & Ryan, 2000).

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