Women business owners' start-up motivations and network structure

Document Type

Journal Article


Cambridge University Press


School of Business and Law


Originally published as:

Sharafizad, J., & Coetzer, A. (2017). Women business owners’ start-up motivations and network structure. Journal of Management & Organization, 23(2), 206-223.

Original article available here


This research responds to calls for studies aimed at developing a more nuanced understanding of women small business owners’ networking behaviours and structures. The study examined whether business start-up motivations and phase of the business (prestart-up, start-up and established) influenced women’s networking behaviours and structures. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 28 women. Interview data were used to categorise participants into classic, forced, and work–family owners. Analysis of the interviews found no marked differences in networking behaviours and network structures of participants during prestart-up phase. During start-up and established phases differences began to emerge. Given that classic and forced owners had established their businesses for financial reasons, a diverse network was more relevant for them. However, work–family participants established the business for family/work balance, thus a small network of close ties was sufficient to achieve their business goals. Theoretical, practical and research implications of the findings are outlined.