Elkafrawi, Nermin Mohamed (2020) Women Entrepreneurship Development in Egyptian Rural Context: A Structuration Perspective. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This research explores the dynamic relationship between Egyptian rural women entrepreneurs and their context, investigated through the real-life experience of these women. The structuration perspective and more specifically its stronger version (SST, Strong Structuration Theory) is the main theoretical lens applied to understand the complex reciprocal relationship between women entrepreneurs and their rural context and how women, as active agents, affect and are affected by their context i.e. structure. The quadripartite framework suggested by Stones (2005) is used to reflect this dynamic relationship.

A qualitative inductive approach is used to collect data, using semi-structured interviews with women and other stakeholders. Thematic analysis identified the challenges and opportunities facing rural women entrepreneurs, their characteristics and their external structure. Given Egypt‘s unstable political and economic conditions since the 2011 revolution, this research provides a unique opportunity to explore rural women as entrepreneurs from a realistic base that simultaneously considers both the agent i.e. woman entrepreneurs and the structure i.e. rural context, in the analysis.

This thesis offers theoretical, methodological and conceptual contributions. The theoretical contribution is presented through contextualising rural women entrepreneurship in Egypt; viewing rural women entrepreneurs as active agents who largely affect their context, and yet are inseparable from it. The research shows how women‘s personal characteristics, including flexibility and social skills, play a key role in helping them adapt rapidly to the fluctuating conditions of their hard lives. Findings also highlight how Egypt‘s current unstable political and economic conditions have changed the social rural structure. In a different vein, this thesis succinctly identifies various discrepancies and wide gaps between what is realistically needed to support rural women entrepreneurs based on their views and experience, and the actual facilities provided by different stakeholders. This confirms that Egyptian rural women entrepreneurs suffer from constrained performance rather than under-performance, and that the external structure with its restrictive norms is the main barrier to achieving their full entrepreneurial potential.

The methodological contribution is highlighted through valorising a relatively under-explored theoretical lens (Strong Structuration Theory-SST) in entrepreneurship research. This lens is presented as an effective tool for investigating the multi-layered complex nature of entrepreneurship through applying an interpretive phenomenological approach. Through this methodological contribution, a conceptual contribution is enabled through a proposed original model, which builds on Stones‘ (2005) framework, reflecting the contextualised nature of rural women entrepreneurship in Egypt.

Finally, it can be concluded that more effort is still needed by government officials and policy makers in implementing plans which reflect the exact needs of rural women in terms of supporting their entrepreneurship. Only in this way can dramatic positive results be guaranteed for the women themselves and for their local and national communities.

FINAL THESIS - Elkafrawi.pdf - Accepted Version
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