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The Entrepreneurial Learning Processes of Saudi Women Entrepreneurs: A Grounded Theory Study Open Access

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This study sought to understand how women entrepreneurs learn to become entrepreneurs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The KSA’s context has a significant impact on the manifestation of entrepreneurial learning (EL) processes and the development of entrepreneurial identity. However, no previous studies on women’s entrepreneurial learning and development of entrepreneurial identity had been conducted in the Middle East or in the KSA. Thus, this study extends this body of research to the unique context of the KSA. The study was conducted using a constructivist, grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006). Eighteen Saudi women entrepreneurs were interviewed. The five major axial codes that emerged from this study (together with their respective focused codes presented in parentheses) are the following: triggers of EL (triggers related to individual characteristics, critical events, the social networks, and the institutional context); EL through family (entrepreneurial preparedness through family in childhood, and learning from the family at and post-establishment); EL outside of the family (learning in non-formal education settings, learning from others, through experience, through reflection, through technology, through observations, through international traveling, and through connection with the Creator/faith in Allah); developing entrepreneurial capabilities (learning about field of business, technology, the business [including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats], networking, time management, navigating the challenges of Saudi context, business management, financial management, and expanding their comfort zone); and developing an entrepreneurial identity (or EI, the development of an entrepreneurial mindset; and learning about managing social risk). Social risk is one of the major findings of this study, which describes how a non-Western context uniquely influences the manifestation of the EL and EI development process of women entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneurial Learning Process Model was developed from the findings. The model is comprised of two Phases: 1) EL prior to the establishment of the current entrepreneurial venture, and 2) EL at and after the establishment of the entrepreneurial venture. This study offers a new understanding of the learning process of Saudi women entrepreneurs, thus extending the literature to a new context, the KSA.

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