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Entrepreneurial women in Thailand : rationale for microenterprise development Pettie, Patama

Abstract

This dissertation examines the emergence of women entrepreneurs and their contribution to the national economy in Thailand. The overall objectives of this study are: (i) To identify social, cultural and economic factors that hinder or limit women's entry into entrepreneurship in Thailand and those that adversely affect their performance; (ii) To recommend appropriate programmes for increasing the economic empowerment of women through micro-enterprise. The sources of this study include reports from governmental departments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and individual researchers' papers. Relevant literature and secondary source materials reveal that women in Thailand (and elsewhere in Southeast Asia) participate in low demand and service-oriented activities that are often prone to horizontal expansion. Their choice of activities, growth strategies, recruitment practices and reinvestment policies are all household-centered rather than business-centered. The result is that most of the activities are gender typed. Analysis of the factors that led to the above entrepreneurial behavior and hence their poor performance in business suggests that socio-cultural gender biases, prejudices, practices and the general lack of gender-sensitive industrial policies are the main critical factors. Sociocultural practices have led to an unequal division of labour to the disadvantage of women. This has led to women's multiple roles which have in turn engendered women's poor performance in business. By advancing the concept of traditional notions of "socio-economic development" and "gender and economic development", this study shows that any interventions geared toward promoting women's entrepreneurship should address both strategic and practical needs. Structural needs that would encompass a re-orientation of the economic and industrial policies should also be addressed. A successful way of identifying the strategic and practical needs of women should focus on the various entrepreneurial behaviours of women. In sum, future research should investigate the factors that determine the growth of women's entrepreneurship. A new approach to understanding women's small firm entrepreneurship and to guiding local economic development in Thailand should rest upon the study of three pillars: the macro environment within which all entrepreneurs create and develop their enterprises; the social relations of women's small business ownership; and survival and growth dynamics, technology use and innovation in small firms. In a nutshell, the process of women's entrepreneurship development policies are not sufficient without broader development of the economic and social policies. It is a choice that is influenced by time, space and culture. Longitudinal data may reveal trends in constraints upon women's entrepreneurship in Thailand that beyond the scope of this study. Since barriers to women's entrepreneurship may change over time a clearer picture of the factors that influence growth of women's entrepreneurship needs to come into focus.

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