Online Communities and Entrepreneuring Mothers
Although entrepreneurship is well recognised as a gendered phenomenon which is embedded within the family domain, less is known about the interplay of individual, communal and social influences on women’s entrepreneurship practice. This paper responds to calls for research that puts community at the heart of scholarly enquiry and adopts an Entrepreneurship as Practice perspective to examine how entrepreneurial actors collectively interpret and negotiate the challenges of combining entrepreneurship and parenthood. Accordingly, the paper adopts a multi-staged research design, incorporating elements of netnography, participant observations and a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews with entrepreneuring mothers across different stages of development of their ventures. Analysis of the reported experiences and observed interactions of entrepreneuring mothers reveals the particular benefits and support women seek and derive from community engagement and shows how key characteristics of the online environment can facilitate the development of strategies to overcome contextual constraints. Our empirical insights into the mundane discursive practices online illuminate the development of entrepreneurial competencies, suggesting co-operative and communal aspects of entrepreneurship may be particularly important to women. Specifically, we distinguish three key practices: mothers’ identity work (being); business development (building) and commitment to community (belonging). In contrast to traditional masculinised entrepreneurial structures (or imitations thereof), online communities of practice provide a relatively “safe place” for women to access and mobilise the required economic, social, cultural and symbolic capital on which entrepreneurial legitimacy and success depends.
Citation : Vershinina, N, Phillips, N and McAdam, M (2019) Online communities and entrepreneuring mothers: Practices of Being, Building and Belonging. Proceedings of the Diana International Research Conference June 2-4, 2019 at Babson College, Wellesley, MA
Research Institute : Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes