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Institutional influence and the role of family in poor women's micropreneurship.

Xiong, Lin; Ukanwa, Irene; Anderson, Alistair R.


Irene Ukanwa

Alistair R. Anderson


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of how the institutions of family and culture play out in shaping family business practices. This study focusses on family business led by poor entrepreneurial women in a context of extreme poverty. Design/methodology/approach: The methods included participant observation, focus groups and interviews in two poor villages in South-East Nigeria. Thematic analysis was used to develop insight about how the institutions of family and culture shape family business practices. Findings: The analysis demonstrated that the family, with associated responsibilities and norms, is a powerful institution that determines women’s role and business behaviours. Poor entrepreneurial women depend on the family to run their business, but also use the business to sustain the family. They make use of their limited resources (e.g. time, money, skills) to meet families’ basic needs and pay for necessities such as children’s education. These are family priorities, rather than maximising profits. Research limitations/implications: The study was limited to rural Africa, in particular to a small sample of rural women entrepreneurs in South-East Nigeria, and as such, the findings are not necessarily generalisable, but may be at a conceptual level. Practical implications: The study has highlighted the need to tailor micro-enterprise development programmes that facilitate change, add values to entrepreneurial activities and support women to fulfil their roles and ease institutional pressures affecting rural women economic activities. In short, such programmes need to account for cultural institutions. Social implications: This study presents insights of the influence of institutions (family and culture) in business led by rural Nigerian women. Originality/value: This research fills a gap in the family business literature by offering conceptual insights about how the institutional obligations of family mean that micro-enterprising should be conceptualised as an entity, rather than as a family in business or the family business.


XIONG, L., UKANWA, I. and ANDERSON, A. 2020. Institutional influence and the role of family in poor women's micropreneurship. International journal of entrepreneurial behavior and research [online], 26(1), pages 122-140. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 17, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 2, 2018
Publication Date Feb 29, 2020
Deposit Date Jul 23, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 2, 2018
Journal International journal of entrepreneurial behavior and research
Print ISSN 1355-2554
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 1
Pages 122-140
Keywords Family business; Poor women; Institutions (culture and family); Micro entrepreneurship; Families; Poverty; Rural Africa
Public URL


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