Published Online:

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


  • Abdelzaher D. M., & Bullough A. 2013. Personal experiences of oppression of women stereotypes in the Middle East: Both East and West are guilty. AIB Insights, 13: 8–11. Google Scholar
  • Amorós J. E., & Bosma N. 2014. Global entrepreneurship monitor 2013 global report: Fifteen years of assessing entrepreneurship across the globe. Babson College, Universidad del Desarrollo, & Universiti Tun Abdul Razak. Google Scholar
  • Autio E., Kenney M., Mustar P., Siegel D., & Wright M. 2014. Entrepreneurial innovation: The importance of context. Research Policy, 43: 1097–1108. Google Scholar
  • Bem S. L. 1981. Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88: 354–364. Google Scholar
  • Berelson B. 1952. Content analysis in communication research. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. Google Scholar
  • Bernard M. 2012. Afghanistan’s Unrelenting War on Women. The Washington Post, April 9, 2012. Google Scholar
  • Bird B. 1988. Implementing entrepreneurial ideas: The case for intention. Academy of Management Review, 13: 442–453.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Bird B., & Brush C. 2002. A gendered perspective on organizational creation. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 26: 41. Google Scholar
  • Birkinshaw J., Brannen M. Y., & Tung R. L. 2011. From a distance and generalizable to up close and grounded: Reclaiming a place for qualitative methods in international business research. Journal of International Business Studies, 42: 573–581. Google Scholar
  • Blobaum A., & Hunecke M. 2005. Perceived danger in urban public space: The impacts of physical features and personal factors. Environment and Behavior, 37: 465–486. Google Scholar
  • Blomberg S. B., Hess G. D., & Orphanides A. 2004. The macroeconomic consequences of terrorism. Journal of Monetary Economics, 51: 1007–1032. Google Scholar
  • Branzei O., & Abdelnour S. 2010. Another day, another dollar: Enterprise resilience under terrorism in developing countries. Journal of International Business Studies, 41: 804–825. Google Scholar
  • Brislin R. W. 1980. Translation and content analysis of oral and written materials. In H. C. Triandis & W. W. Lambert (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural psychology, vol. 2: 349–444. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Google Scholar
  • Brücka T., Llussáf F., & Tavares J. A. 2011. Entrepreneurship: The role of extreme events. European Journal of Political Economy, 27: S78–S88. Google Scholar
  • Brush C. G., de Bruin A., & Welter F. 2009. A gender-aware framework for women’s entrepreneurship. International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 1: 8–24. Google Scholar
  • Bullough A., Renko M., & Myatt T. 2014. Danger zone entrepreneurs: The importance of resilience and self-efficacy for entrepreneurial intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice,vol. 38: 473–499. Google Scholar
  • Busenitz L. W., & Lau C. M. 1996. A cross-cultural cognitive model of new venture creation. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 20: 25–39. Google Scholar
  • Carr N. 2001. An exploratory study of gendered differences in young tourists perception of danger within London. Tourism Management, 22: 565–570. Google Scholar
  • Chemaly S. 2015. Worldwide, it’s “more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern wars,” The World Post: A Partnership of the Huffington Post and Bergguen Institute, July 10, 2015. Google Scholar
  • CIA. 2010. CIA World Factbook. Accessed September 12, 2012. Google Scholar
  • CIA. 2012. CIA World Factbook. Accessed July 22, 2010. Google Scholar
  • Ciarli T., Parto S., & Savona M. 2010. Conflict and entrepreneurial activity in Afghanistan: Findings from the national risk vulnerability assessment data. Working paper no. 8/2010. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. Google Scholar
  • Constable P. 2013. Afghan escapes Taliban oppression, but she fears for the others still there, The Washington Post, April 18, 2013. Google Scholar
  • Corley K. G., & Gioia D. A. 2004. Identity ambiguity and change in the wake of corporate spin-off. Administrative Science Quarterly, 49: 173–208. Google Scholar
  • Czinkota M. R., Knight G. A., Liesch P. W., & Steen J. 2010. Terrorism and international business: A research agenda. Journal of International Business Studies, 41: 826–843. Google Scholar
  • de Bruin A., Brush C. G., & Welter F. 2007. Advancing a framework for coherent research on women’s entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 31: 323–339. Google Scholar
  • Demirgüc-Kunt A., Klapper L. F., & Panos G. A. 2009. Entrepreneurship in post-conflict transition: The role of informality and access to finance. Washington, DC: The World Bank Development Research Group Finance and Private Sector Team. Google Scholar
  • G Dorronsoro (Ed.). 2005. Revolution unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to the present. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar
  • Fendt J., & Sachs W. 2008. Grounded theory method in management research: Users’ perspectives. Organizational Research Methods, 11: 430–455. Google Scholar
  • Fiske S. T., & Taylor S. E. 1984. Social cognition. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Google Scholar
  • Gill J., & Johnson P. 1997. Research methods for managers. London, UK: Paul Chapman Publishing. Google Scholar
  • Graham-Harrison E. 2014. New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women, The Guardian, February 4, 2014. Google Scholar
  • Holmen M., Min T. T., & Saarelainen E. 2012. Female entrepreneurship in Afghanistan. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 16: 307–331. Google Scholar
  • Human Rights Watch. 2013. Epidemic of sexual violence: At least 91 attacks in 4 days. Egypt: Human Rights Watch. Google Scholar
  • Hughes K. D., Jennings J. E., Brush C., Carter S., & Welter F. 2012. Extending women’s entrepreneurship research in new directions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36: 429–442. Google Scholar
  • Human Rights Watch. 2012. “I Had To Run Away:” The imprisonment of women and girls for “moral crimes” in Afghanistan. United States of America: Human Rights Watch. Accessed February 6, 2014. Google Scholar
  • Human Rights Watch. 2015. Slavery: The ISIS rules. United States of America: Human Rights Watch. Accessed November 20, 2015. Google Scholar
  • Jago A. G., & Vroom V. H. 1982. Sex differences in the incidence and evaluation of participative leader behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67: 776–783. Google Scholar
  • Jick T. D. 1979. Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods: Triangulation in action. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24: 602–611. Google Scholar
  • Johns G. 2006. The essential impact of context on organizational behaviour. Academy of Management Review, 21: 386–408. Google Scholar
  • Johnson P., Buehring A., Cassell C., & Symon G. 2006. Evaluating qualitative management research: Towards a contingent criteriology. International Journal of Management Reviews, 8: 131–156. Google Scholar
  • Jones G. G., & Lemon G. T. 2012. Kaweyan: Female entrepreneurship and the past and future of Afghanistan, case no. 9-811-023. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. Google Scholar
  • Joya M. 2009. A woman among warlords: The extraordinary story of an Afghan who dared to raise her voice. New York, NY: Scribner. Google Scholar
  • King D. W., King L. A., Gudanowski D. M., & Vreven D. L. 1995. Alternative representations of war zone stressors: Relationships to post-traumatic stress disorder in male and female Vietnam Veterans. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104: 184–196. Google Scholar
  • King L. A., King D. W., Vogt D. S., Knight J., & Sampler R. E. 2006. Deployment risk and resilience inventory: A collection of measures for studying deployment-related experiences of military personnel and veterans. Military Psychology, 18: 89–120. Google Scholar
  • Koofi F. 2011. Letters to my daughters. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre. Google Scholar
  • Leitch C. M., Hill F. M., & Harrison R. T. 2009. The philosophy and practice of interpretivist research in entrepreneurship quality, validation, and trust. Organizational Research Methods, 13: 67–84. Google Scholar
  • Lloyd-Davies F. 2011. Why eastern DR Congo is ‘rape capital of the world’. CNN, November 25, 2011. Google Scholar
  • Mitchell R. K., Smith B., Seawright K. W., & Morse E. A. 2000. Cross-cultural cognitions and the venture creation decision. Academy of Management Journal, 43: 974–993.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Morgan D. L. 1997. Focus groups as qualitative research 2nd ed.. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Google Scholar
  • Nijhowne D., & Oates L. 2008. Living with violence: A National report on domestic abuse in Afghanistan. Washington, DC: Global Rights: Partners for Justice. Google Scholar
  • Pfeffer J. 2007. A modest proposal: How we might change the process and product of managerial research. Academy of Management Journal, 50: 1334–1345.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Reichmann D. 2010. UN chief: Security in Afghanistan has not improved, Associated Press, June 19, 2010. Google Scholar
  • Reynolds P., Bosma N., Autio E., Hunt S., De Bono N., Servais I., Lopez-Garcia P., & Chin N. 2005. Global entrepreneurship monitor: Data collection design and implementation 1998-2003. Small Business Economics, 24: 205–231. Google Scholar
  • Scandura T. A., & Williams E. A. 2000. Research methodology in management: Current practices, trends, and implications for future research. Academy of Management Journal, 43: 1248–1264.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Schlein L. 2014. Women in conflict zones at risk of violence, discrimination, Voice of America, July 18, 2014. Google Scholar
  • Segran E. 2013. What the Delhi rape trials mean for India’s women, Atlantic (Boston, MA), July 25, 2013. Google Scholar
  • Shalhūb-Kīfūrkiyān N. 2009. Militarization and violence against women in conflict zones in the middle east: A Palestinian case study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  • Shaw E. 1999. A guide to the qualitative research process: Evidence from a small firm study. Qualitative Market Research, 2: 59–70. Google Scholar
  • Spencer R. 2015. ISIS releases guide to women’s rights: ‘Stay in your houses,’ girls can marry at nine, education to age of 15, National Post, February 6, 2015. Google Scholar
  • Stahl B. C. 2007. Positivism or non-positivism—tertium non datur: A critique of ontological syncretisim in IS research. In R. Kishore, R. Ramesh, & R. Sharman (Eds.), Ontologies: A handbook of principles, concepts and applications in information systems, vol. 14: 115–142. New York, NY: Springer. Google Scholar
  • Terjesen S., Hessels J., & Li D. 2013. Comparative international entrepreneurship a review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 42: 299–344. Google Scholar
  • U.S. Department of Justice. 2013. Legislation: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013). Accessed April 15, 2016. Google Scholar
  • Welter F. 2011. Contextualizing entrepreneurship: Conceptual challenges and ways forward. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 35: 165–184. Google Scholar
  • Zahra S. A., Wright M., & Abdelgawad S. G. 2014. Contextualization and the advancement of entrepreneurship research. International Small Business Journal, 32: 479–500. Google Scholar
  Academy of Management
  555 Pleasantville Road, Suite N200
  Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510-8020, USA
  Phone: +1 (914) 326-1800
  Fax: +1 (914) 326-1900
Academy of Management