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Values and Identities of Women Entrepreneurs: A Study of Muslim Women of Malay Ethnicity in Malaysia

This thesis investigates how Islam, culture, and gender intersect in Malay women’s construction of their entrepreneurial identities. Interest in this research study grew out of my own experiences of working as an entrepreneur in Malaysia in 1996. Entrepreneurship has long been internationally recognised as an engine for economic growth and development, and this is equally the case in Malaysia. Yet research and theorising of entrepreneurial experiences remain largely rooted in traditional functionalist perspectives which tend to be androcentric, white, and Western in bias. These perspectives and have also limited the range of ways in which women’s experiences of entrepreneurship have been defined and understood. This study built upon culture as a root metaphor perspective, an aspect of social constructionist theorising as a methodological framework to underpin the study. Based on the interview data, the construction of women entrepreneurs’ identity is complex because of the interweaving of religion, culture, and gender which simultaneously enable and constrain at multiple social levels and categories. The women demonstrated various forms of entrepreneurial identity which are simultaneously Islamic, culture-driven – through their Malayness – and feminine while also embracing entrepreneurial values. Rather than supporting a view that women entrepreneurs should be moulded in particular ways to be efficient and successful, these Malay women participants exhibited inherently rooted entrepreneurial values. Moreover, gender plays an important role that reveals the notion of intersectionality between gender and multiple influences that shape how entrepreneurs think about their own identities in an entrepreneurial setting. This study also suggests that as well as being an economic phenomenon, entrepreneurship can also be read as a cultural one, hence culture as a root metaphor, in that entrepreneurship is culturally produced and reproduced in social practices. This study adds to understanding of the intersectionality of religion, ethnicity, and gender within the entrepreneurial context.
Type of thesis
Mohd Rhouse, S. (2013). Values and Identities of Women Entrepreneurs: A Study of Muslim Women of Malay Ethnicity in Malaysia (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7249
University of Waikato
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