Normative and Cognitive Influences on Female Entrepreneurial Reluctance at the Base of the Pyramid – An Explorative Study of Cleaning Ladies in Istanbul

Rüdiger Hahn, Dilek Zamantili Nayir


Previous research has considered entrepreneurship as a way out of poverty and as a chance to foster economic growth. Moreover, specifically start-ups headed by women have played an important role in the economic development and it has been argued that gender-related issues, amongst others, play a significant role for the performance of a country or region. Against this background, this qualitative study explores desires, reluctances and constraints toward entrepreneurial activities of a comparably homogenous group of potential (poor) entrepreneurs in an emerging economy—cleaning ladies in Istanbul. We focus on this particular context as still rather little is known on reasons why women do not start a business (in Turkey). We believe exploring the reasons why certain individuals choose not to become entrepreneurs is at least as telling as investigating why they do so.

We draw upon the social dimensions of entrepreneurship by Shapero and Sokol (1982) alongside Institutional Theory and posit that normative and cognitive forces may shape individual decisions on entrepreneurship. We identified two basic clusters of women and discuss possible hindrance factors undermining entrepreneurial desires and limitations for entrepreneurship as well as possible avenues for policy makers (and MNCs) to foster entrepreneurship in the given community.


Base (bottom) of the pyramid; entrepreneurial reluctance; desirability; feasibility; Turkey; entrepreneurship; poor

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Journal of Pro Poor Growth

(An International Perspective)

ISSN: 2306-1669 (Online), 2310-4686 (Print)

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