Women Entrepreneurs in Cambodia: Microfoundations of Surprises and Unexpected Events in the Entrepreneurial Journey
MetadataShow full metadata
Entrepreneurship literature on women emerged in the late 1970s, but the topic has not been widely studied until the last few decades. Nevertheless, research on women entrepreneurship is still under-represented, despite its great significance on global employment and economies. In their entrepreneurial journey, women entrepreneurs face regular business challenges, with an increase of ambiguous and unexpected events. While the entrepreneurial challenges and uncertainty are widely studied, the unpredicted challenges are as yet under-discovered, especially for women entrepreneurs in developing countries. The literature on surprise largely focuses on those that are crisis-based, and in large organisational settings, resulting in a lack of understanding of surprises in small business, their impacts, and the frameworks and influential factors in relation to responding to those events. As a result, the purpose of this research is to address this literature gap using a microfoundations theoretical lens, to investigate how women entrepreneurs deal with surprises and unexpected events while operating their ventures in Cambodia. The overarching research question of this study is “how do women entrepreneurs in Cambodia individually respond to unexpected events in their entrepreneurial journey in Cambodia?” The study employed a qualitative method, by conducting semi-structured interviews with 12 Cambodian female entrepreneurs who had experience operating a small or medium enterprise. After analysing the obtained data using a thematic analysis approach, three main themes were generated: the characteristics of unexpected events, the impacts of unexpected events on business and entrepreneurs, and the microfoundations of dealing with unexpected events. Some highlights of the findings include the sources of surprises, which can be from within the organisation, external environment, or a combination of both. Findings on the impacts of surprises on business and entrepreneurs’ mental and physical well-being extend the existing literature, which has explored surprises only in the context of crises. Furthermore, the results of the study illustrate the effectuation of cognitive frameworks applied by entrepreneurs when dealing with surprise, which is a new perspective, as this framework was investigated only in relation to uncertainty in creating new ventures. Additionally, the study demonstrates influential micro-level actions and factors, such as entrepreneurs’ personality traits, knowledge, skills and experience, and social capital. Interestingly, the results present new insights into the social capital literature on the benefits of guanxi networks on responses to surprises, which also feature the cultural aspects of entrepreneurs’ behaviours when dealing with unexpected challenges.