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Running their own show: Malaysian women entrepreneurs’ kaleidoscope careers

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wee Au


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Purpose – Considerable research has been conducted to highlight women’s career decisions to opt-out of corporate positions, but little is said about those who leave to become entrepreneurs. The purpose of this paper is to theorize kaleidoscope career parameters in relation to entrepreneurship stages and demonstrate the role of macro-national context (i.e. government initiatives and cultural practices) in women entrepreneurs’ career choices. Design/methodology/approach – The authors interviewed 34 Malaysian women entrepreneurs (MWEs) who were established in their careers and explored the following two research questions: (1) what career parameters are prioritized at different entrepreneurship stages? and (2) how does macro-national context influence women entrepreneurs’ careers? Findings – Adopting a kaleidoscope career lens, the authors show that authenticity was prioritized during the initial entrepreneurship stage, while balance and challenge were prioritized during the establishment and business advancement stages, respectively. The authors demonstrate that government support was conducive to women’s decision to opt-in and stay in the entrepreneurship path. The findings also denote that cultural practices facilitated women’s pursuit of entrepreneurship by encouraging family members to support women entrepreneurs in their career choices and actions. Originality/value – The qualitative approach enabled us to specify the context-specific meaning women entrepreneurs in our study associated with authenticity, balance, and challenge. In doing so, this research extends the kaleidoscope career model to better understand women’s career patterns at different entrepreneurship stages.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Au WC, Beigi M, Shirmohammadi M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Career Development International

Year: 2021

Volume: 26

Issue: 5

Pages: 613-639

Print publication date: 08/10/2021

Online publication date: 16/08/2021

Acceptance date: 25/07/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1362-0436

Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited


DOI: 10.1108/CDI-02-2021-0043


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