The entrepreneurial resilience of rural women business owners in a time of crisis

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Ashton Wagner, Doreen
Ecological systems theory
Entrepreneurial resilience
Rural entrepreneurs
Rural Women Business Owners
Women entrepreneurs
Purpose – This study draws from ecological systems theory (EST) as the conceptual basis to answer the question: what affects the entrepreneurial resilience of rural women business owners in a time of crisis? Design/methodology/approach – Evidence was gathered from two in-depth interviews with each of 13 participants, three months apart, during the 2020-2021 pandemic. Thematic analysis was applied, along with measures to ensure trustworthiness. Findings – Immediate social contexts challenged entrepreneurial resilience with family care obligations, homeschooling, and unsupportive close relationships. Certain institutional contexts such as enterprises’ industry and business models also demanded more resilience – with healthcare and in-person-only retail operations being most affected. Beyond contexts, entrepreneurial resilience ebbed and flowed with recursive ecosystem interactions especially with close, personal relationships. Business owners demonstrated agency with coping strategies to bolster resilience including focusing on community and collaboration, employing clarity around roles to navigate business and personal commitments, appropriate distancing from ecosystem relationships at critical times, and strategic application of new ways of doing business to accommodate COVID restrictions. Originality/value – This study is unique in that it was conducted as a significant health and economic crisis was unfolding, offering insight into the development of entrepreneurial resilience, over time, and focusing on a relatively unexplored field of rural women entrepreneurship. Keywords – Resilience, Entrepreneurial resilience, Women entrepreneurs, Rural entrepreneurs, Ecological systems theory Paper Type – Research paper
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