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Lamir Khashab


Dr. Briga Hynes & Dr. Yvonne Costin

Working Title of Thesis:

Developing female entrepreneurship: Applying institutional theory in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an example of an emerging country


The renewed interest in promoting entrepreneurial engagement and start-ups in Saudi Arabia was occasioned/driven by the need to reduce its reliance on the oil industry, an unsustainable and depletable source of income that will deteriorate within a few decades.  Within the focus of increasing entrepreneurial activity is the emphasis on encouraging more females to start enterprises. Despite the reality that around half of all people in developing countries are women, only five percent of the total number of businesses in these countries are female started, and this is a mark of cultural, social, and economic exclusion despite years of improvement. While studies on men's entrepreneurial engagement in Saudi Arabia abound, there is a shortage of studies  on female entrepreneurship. In recognition of the importance of women’s entrepreneurship, the government now provides many programmes to develop women entrepreneurs. 

This research will evaluate the status of female entrepreneurial activity in Saudi Arabia. It will investigate a range of internal and external challenges that impact female entrepreneurs who are starting and growing their enterprises. The study will apply institutional theory as a framework to determine the impact of these internal and external challenges and the impact of the range of financial and non-financial supports provided by Government agencies.   Also, the research will ascertain if differences exist by age, business size, or sector.

The research adopts a mono method approach incorporating a semi-structured questionnaire. 

This study contributes to the growing demand for empirical studies to better understand the dynamics and factors that impact on the level of female entrepreneurial activity in Saudi Arabia. The results will identify the key internal and external challenges and provide suggestions for policy and practice on how these can be overcome. Further, this study has equally expanded the application of institutional theory to understanding the critical institutional challenges affecting women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.

The research approach is quantitative data involving the administration of the questionnaire collected from 120 Saudi female entrepreneurs. Participants were from various areas in KSA and different business sectors. The data were analysed using content analysis and descriptive analysis for qualitative data, respectively.