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ABSTRACT. It is generally accepted that companies can adopt two types of strategies when confronted with an economic downturn: defensive and offensive approach. While the existence of significant differences between men and women is proven (e.g., in terms of risk-taking, propensity towards investments, innovation, development and growth), business strategy studies do not consider the gender of the entrepreneur and do not take into account whether male and female businesses can opt for different solutions when they are faced with an economic crisis. This paper focuses on this topic and it aims to analyze how Italian micro-entrepreneurs have responded to the economic crisis. Moreover it aims to compare male and female entrepreneurs’ strategic behavior, in order to understand if they have adopted similar or different strategies when facing the recession. The empirical research is based on a questionnaire survey involving a sample of 300 sole proprietors – 150 men and 150 women-owners of Italian micro-enterprises. Data gathered through the questionnaire has been used to identify the most frequent actions undertaken by entrepreneurs in facing the crisis. Answers supplied by the entrepreneurs were also submitted to factor and cluster analysis in order to identify several typical strategic profiles adopted by entrepreneurs. Four main strategic profiles were identified: training of staff, market-orientation, development and growth, downsizing. Women mainly dealt with the crisis with a defensive attitude and preferred downsizing their activities and increasing efficiency. The main limitation of the research concerns samples compositions, as it only includes sole proprietors located in a limited geographical context. Moreover, the analysis only considers gender issue and ignores other variables (firms’ features and/or entrepreneurs’ characteristics) that may have influenced businesses’ strategies. Data from this investigation contribute to the debate on gender-based differences in behaviors, attitudes and preferences. Until now, no analyzes were carried out to compare the behavior of entrepreneurs of both genders in situations of economic recession. pp. 205–231

Keywords: strategies; economic crisis; gender; women; female entrepreneurship; micro-entrepreneurs; Italy

How to cite: Cesaroni, Francesca Maria, Annalisa Sentuti, and Andrea Buratti (2015), “Same Crisis, Different Strategies? Italian Men and Women Entrepreneurs in Front of the Economic Recession,” Journal of Research in Gender Studies 5(2): 205–231.

Received 12 August 2015 • Received in revised form 15 October 2015
Accepted 16 October 2015 • Available online 20 October 2015

FRANCESCA MARIA CESARONI
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(corresponding author)
Department of Economics, Society and Politics,
University of Urbino Carlo Bo
ANNALISA SENTUTI
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Department of Economics, Society and Politics,
University of Urbino Carlo Bo
ANDREA BURATTI
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Department of Economics, Society and Politics,
University of Urbino Carlo Bo

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