Reimaging and Contextualising Women’s Entrepreneurship in Asia

Guest editor(s)

Michael J Mustafa


Grace Hooi Yean Lee


Hazel Melanie Ramos

Submission opens 30 September 2022

Entrepreneurial activity is considered as the driving force for modern economies and societal development through both economic growth and the generation of employment, and the promotion of innovation (Bosma and Levie, 2010). The importance of entrepreneurial activity to economic growth and societal development is particularly evident in emerging economy contexts (Chan and Mustafa, 2021). Scholars of entrepreneurship have been long interested in understanding how institutional arrangements can shape not only the rate but also the nature of entrepreneurial activities across economies (Chiles et al., 2007). Although institutions are common across countries and societies, considerable heterogeneity can nevertheless be found among them. One such difference with respect to institutional arrangements may be observed between developed and developing or emerging, economies (Bruton et al., 2008). Consequently there has been growing calls by the scholars to better account for and understand how entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activity take shapes in emerging economy contexts.  

Besides differences in institutional environments, research (Carter et al., 2007) indicates gender as an important factor that affects motivation for business start-ups and types of challenges that entrepreneurs face. Within the emerging economy context, women’s entrepreneurial activity is often presented as an undeveloped source of future economic growth and development. Functionally and theoretically, Carter and Shaw (2006) argue that women are social and economic change agents, but their contribution is often understated and undervalued (Goyal and Yadav, 2014). Such a notion is surprising given that research has shown the contribution of self-employed women tends to be higher than that of men (Minniti and Naude, 2010) and that the rate of women participating in entrepreneurial activities is around one-half of that of men (Singer, Amoros, and Moska 2015). Currently, the vast majority of research concerning women’s entrepreneurs remains in an embryonic stage still very western-centric; most literature reports empirical studies primarily from the west (Yadav and Unni, 2016). Furthermore, research also continues to see women’s entrepreneurial activity in developed economies to be driven by opportunities, while that of those in less developed economies to be motivated by necessity. Accordingly, greater understanding is needed regarding how women’s entrepreneurship takes shape in emerging economies.  

A particularly important but under research emerging economy context with respect to women’s’ entrepreneurship is Asia. Asia as a research context (Barkema et al., 2015) is significantly different, in many ways, from other emerging economy and Western contexts where a majority of studies on women entrepreneurship has been conducted (Badura et al., 2018). First, traditional culture (e.g., Confucianism) and religious beliefs (e.g., Hinduism) in Asia dictate the inferior status of women in their daily lives. Second, women’s appointment to high-ranking roles in Asia has been a continuing challenge. Third, many organizations in Asia remain as gendered workplaces where cultural, religious, and organizational constraints coexist. However, such assumptions have recently began to be challenged as a recent McKinsey Global Institute’s (2018) report showed that the Asian region can benefit greatly by advancing women’s participation in economic activities and thereby enhancing economic development. Although there has been a noticeable increase in women entrepreneurs, there continues to be an urgent need to develop and promote women entrepreneurs for sustainable economic growth in Asia (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2018). Women entrepreneurs in general face challenges as business owners to survive in fiercely competitive domestic and global markets and as women to strike a balance between work and life (Bullough and Renko, 2017). In light of such evidence a recent analysis of women’s’ entrepreneurial activity in emerging economies by Anderson and Ojediran (2021)  found women entrepreneurs’ agency to be restricted agency. As such, they concluded that women’s empowerment and emancipation in emerging economies also limited because of this restricted agency.  

Considering the influence of women entrepreneurs on social and economic advancement, it is important to develop a fuller understanding of the nuances concerning women’s entrepreneurship in Asia region. Specifically, greater understanding is needed concerning how the Asian context can influences women motivations and ability to engage in entrepreneurship, their organization of capital and resources around entrepreneurship and the impact of women’s entrepreneurial activity influence economic, individual and societal outcomes. Despite the growing scholarly interest in women’s entrepreneurship among early career scholars in the region, we feel the time is right to take a deeper dive into the topic in order to re-image and contextualize women’s entrepreneurship in the Asian region.  


Motivation for this Special Issue  

The Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies (JEEE) is the first journal to focus on research in all areas of business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and policies that inhibit or stimulate entrepreneurship, development and sustainability in emerging economies. The topic of women’s entrepreneurship in emerging economies remains a key topic of interest among scholarly submissions to JEEE. In fact, recently Anderson and Ojediran (2021) provided a comprehensive review of the literature on women’s entrepreneurship in emerging economies. While their study opened up new perspectives to the study of women’s entrepreneurship in emerging economies, we still note the lack of a distinct focus on women’s entrepreneurship in the Asian context. Accordingly, this proposed specifical issue, with its specific focus on the Asian region, and the call to take into account the Asian context in examining women’s entrepreneurship will help to fill a valuable gap in the literature. Specifically, the special issue will seek to shed new light on how empowered women entrepreneurs can have an impact on their regional communities and how the Asian context also influences their entrepreneurial activity.  

We aim to facilitate the publication of high-quality research in this area of inquiry while giving researchers an opportunity to have their manuscript included in what will become an invaluable reference point for future scholars on this topic. We are particularly interested in early career scholars and scholars from the Asian region in general.  Areas where research can advance the literature include, but are not limited to, the following topics: 

● What strategies do women entrepreneurs use to ensure the success of their enterprises.  

● How do women entrepreneurs develop their digital capabilities and/or adoption of digital capabilities among Asian women entrepreneurs 

● How women’s entrepreneurship shape and transform local and regional communities in Asia 

● Financial and social inclusion of women entrepreneurship  

● How do women entrepreneurs in Asia develop and deploy their social capital 

● In what does the Asian socio-economic environment on women’s entrepreneurial activities 

  • What strategies do women leaders in entrepreneurial organisations use 

  • How do women entrepreneurs in Asia manage their work-life balance 

  • What drives the entrepreneurial intentions of women in the Asia region 

  • How do women entrepreneurs negotiate, manoeuvre and manipulate the obstacles they face? 

  • How do women entrepreneurs use their restricted entrepreneurial agency to overcome institutional challenges?  

  • How do institutions in the Asian emerging economies respond to the rise of women’s entrepreneurial activity.  


Submission Process and Deadlines 

Manuscripts will be reviewed according to the JEEE double-blind review process and should be prepared using the JEEE Manuscript Preparation Guidelines (