Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research

Nature or Nurture? – Essays on Fostering Female Entrepreneurship

Policymakers and researchers agree that the gender gap in entrepreneurship, with fewer women engaging in entrepreneurial activities than men, presents an untapped economic potential. Research shows that women’s lower entrepreneurial propensity is largely driven by personal-level variables, such as psychological traits, motives and values. For instance, women consistently report lower entrepreneurial intentions and confidence in their entrepreneurial skills than men. To derive policy interventions that foster female entrepreneurship in an effective way, one needs to understand the factors and decision processes that influence women to pursue an entrepreneurial career. The dissertation seeks to contribute to this discussion in three ways: The main project is a field experiment, which examines the effects of female entrepreneurial role models in entrepreneurship education. The results show that exposure to female entrepreneurs boosts the development of entrepreneurial self-­efficacy and attitudes towards entrepreneurship of female students. The second project aims to unravel the role of “fear of failure” as an antecedent to entrepreneurial propensity by integrating theories from personality psychology and entrepreneurship. The third project tackles processes in entrepreneurial teams and investigates to what extent the team-internal distribution of non-cognitive skills and personality traits, such as emotional intelligence, influences different measures of team performance.



Prof. Dietmar Harhoff, Ph.D.