How do female entrepreneurs in developing countries cope with role conflict?

Mulu Hundera, Geert Duijsters, Wim Naudé, Josette Dijkhuizen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Female entrepreneurs often face significant conflicts in allocating time and resources to the various roles demanded of them by their communities. This has been identified as a potential obstacle to their performance as entrepreneurs. This paper aims to examine the question: How do women cope with role conflict?

The authors tackled the question by conducting a survey that involved 307 female business owners in Ethiopia. The survey result was supported by 20 in-depth interviews.

The commonest coping strategies identified were negotiation, committing to the entrepreneurial role, committing to social roles, pleasing all, seeking social support and hiring outside support. A multivariate analysis of variance revealed that these coping strategies differed across the various stages of business growth. Meanwhile, structural equation modeling established that female business owners with high levels of personal resources (such as optimism, self-efficacy and resilience) committed more to their entrepreneurial roles than to their social roles.

This research contributes knowledge on coping strategies among female entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa, where family structure and orientation, the economy and social development differ from those in developed countries. The research also integrates the lines of empirical research on coping strategies with the process-based view of entrepreneurship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-145
JournalInternational Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • entrepreneurship
  • women
  • personal resources
  • strategies for coping with role conflict


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