Doing and Re-doing Gender in the Environmental Engagement of Entrepreneurs from Turkey

Kutlu, Gizem (2023). Doing and Re-doing Gender in the Environmental Engagement of Entrepreneurs from Turkey. PhD thesis The Open University.



Researchers and policymakers are increasingly interested in gender influences, such as doing gender, where entrepreneurs conform to their perceived gender identity and roles, and re-doing gender, where entrepreneurs resist perceived gender differences through their entrepreneurial practices. Many studies have examined gender influences in traditional entrepreneurship, but this study investigates how they affect environmental entrepreneurship. Environmental entrepreneurs contribute to the sustainability of society by reducing negative environmental impacts or finding innovative solutions to climate change and other environmental problems such as water scarcity and biodiversity loss.
It has been argued that women entrepreneurs might be more engaged with environmental issues than men entrepreneurs in their SMEs as a result of gender role socialisation in developed countries. The claim does not apply to emerging economies, especially when gender influences and institutional influences interact to shape entrepreneurial behaviour. Turkish women are perceived as feminine through their caregiving roles at home, creating specific institutional barriers (e.g., access to finance) for them in starting/running their businesses. Turkish men are perceived as masculine, which is attributed to the characteristics of being an entrepreneur; however, this may create tensions between being a male entrepreneur and practising feminist ethics of care in environmental entrepreneurship.
In this thesis, the influence of gender and institutions on entrepreneurs' environmental engagement in Turkey is empirically investigated as a driver, enabler, or/and barrier. Specifically, the thesis argues that compliance with perceived gender identity and roles shape entrepreneurs’ ethical value creation, yet when institutional gaps occur as barriers to the development of their SMEs, women and men strategically do and redo gender and transform their reaction to perceived gender differences by practising feminist ethics of care through being relational, supportive, and collaborative in their SMEs.
This thesis suggests the above argument by developing an integrative theoretical framework drawing on gender role socialisation, feminist ethics of care, gender identity and institutional theory to understand the socially constructed gender influences on environmental entrepreneurship. Empirically, the thesis develops two case studies of gender influences and institutional influences on women and men-owned SMEs. Qualitative research is employed with data collection comprising in-depth interviews and complemented by secondary sources.
Findings reveal the distinctive (gendered) environmental drivers for female and male environmental entrepreneurs as doing and re-doing gender depending on the institutional enablers and gaps. The interaction of gender influences and institutional influences in entrepreneurs’ environmental engagement results in sustainability-driven and/or economically driven environmental entrepreneurship in SMEs.
These findings contribute to gender and environmental entrepreneurship literature by uncovering how gender and institutional factors influence environmental entrepreneurship by interacting with each other as a driver and/or an enabler through an integrative theoretical framework. Moreover, the findings have implications for female and male entrepreneurs who may wish to run environmental businesses but face challenges in environmental legislation, access to finance, and collaboration with public and private sectors in a patriarchal social structure.
The findings also have implications for social and entrepreneurial policymakers to support the role of women as stakeholders in the green economy with their contribution to the circular economy through their sustainability-driven environmental entrepreneurship. Also, there are policy implications for developing institutional support mechanisms for increasing environmental entrepreneurship in both women and men-owned SMEs from distinctive sectors.

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