Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2015.0026

Through a mixed-methods approach, we explore how the perceived dangers involved in starting a business in a dangerous region of the world differ by gender. We also explore the ways that women’s businesses affect and are affected by their perceptions of dangers. From surveys in a war zone (Afghanistan), we found that women actually perceive less danger than men do when danger is measured using conventional measures of war-related dangers. In follow-up interviews, we uncovered that women business owners indeed recognize conflict, insurgents, and insecurity in their country, but secondarily to the obstacles they navigate closer to home. These perceptions of danger affect their business decisions. By understanding these nuances better, we can design and implement more effective research studies, as well as more effective business development training programs that will serve women, their businesses, and societal growth best.

Editor’s Comment

The research reported in this study reports a surprising finding—namely, that female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan actually perceived less danger than male entrepreneurs when danger was measured using an instrument that measured the dangers associated with war and violence. The authors then delved into the reasons for this finding by conducting interviews and focus groups with female entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, discovering that some of our measures of danger in war zones do not adequately capture all the dimensions of danger that women face in such countries (e.g., concerns with dealing with dangers associated with oppression and violence close to home). The results of this study are important for entrepreneurship scholars, especially those studying how to facilitate entrepreneurship in developing and war-torn areas of the world with extreme gender inequity. This paper fits the mission of AMD because the authors explore the causes of a surprising finding about an important topic in an underresearched part of the world, make an attempt to “discover” why that result was obtained, and by doing so, contribute to our understanding of the phenomenon. The research also reminds us why it may be important to look at the effects of gender on perceptions in organizational contexts more generally.

Frances Milliken, Action Editor

Whiteboard Video Abstract

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