Exploring Gender-Related Perceptions of SME Success
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Purpose – Small and medium enterprise (SME) research into the meaning and perception of success is now reaching beyond (the somewhat stereotypical) extrinsic success measures such as sales, number of employees, and profit. Researchers now identify the goals and expectations of the owner(s) of a business as central to their likely performance and preferred success metrics. Therefore, this paper aims to overlay perceptions of success and gender to establish whether success is conceptualised in the same way across genders. Design/methodology/approach – The study analyses the responses from 375 male and female SME owners to a range of quantitative success metrics and also explores the responses provided to a number of qualitative questions surrounding the owners’ perceptions of success. Findings – Although the average female-owned business in the study is significantly smaller than the average male-owned business, they perform equally well on extrinsic measures that relate outputs (profit) to inputs (assets and hours worked). Further, the female SME owners appear to be more satisfied with both the success of their business and their lifestyle, than their male counterparts. Originality/value – The findings suggest that the social feminists hold sway (men and women have different perceptions of success) and there is value in incorporating a feminine perspective when examining what business owners are looking for from their ventures. That is, measures of SME success need to adopt a person-centered perspective.
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