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Resource mobilization through business owners' networks: is gender an issue?

Carter, Sara and Diaz, C. (2009) Resource mobilization through business owners' networks: is gender an issue? International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 1 (3). pp. 226-252. ISSN 1756-6266

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In this paper, a social capital perspective is presented to illustrate the interaction between gender and resource mobilization through business owners' networks. This paper explores the resources provided by key supporters of small and young Spanish business owners within the professional service sector. The findings suggest that a small group of key individuals provides a diverse range of mainly intangible support to the entrepreneur. Overall, the paper finds only limited support for the idea that male and female networks differ in resource mobilization except for the source of contacts-referrals and emotional capital. The importance of including emotional capital is evident in the fact that men and women seek it in large numbers, although few studies consider it within the resources provided by the entrepreneurial networks, since it is normally attributed to women and the private sphere. It seems that women business owners, through their embeddedness in networks, can build a bridge between their agency and the structure which normally implies some constraints for them due to the gender-belief system. Establishing a mentorship program can prove very useful, since business owners prioritize obtaining intangible resources from their key supporters: ideas-advice, emotional support, and contacts-referrals. Despite the research attention on social capital in recent years, prior work has tended to focus on how actors connect (structural dimension); however, there is a dearth of research about the resources actors can potentially gain access to by examining with whom they connect. Moreover, few studies have recognized the impact of gender on networking experiences.