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Women entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa. A review of knowledge areas and research gaps

Publication Illustration
Lynda, Bastiann Bettina. Sidani, Yusuf Munir & El Amine, Yasmina.
Gender in Management: An International Journal
Year of Publication

This paper aims to attempt to collate and understand the fragmented research on female entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The review assesses the literature at the macro, meso and micro analysis levels and addresses the obstacles, challenges, motivations and characteristics of female entrepreneurship in the MENA region.


The analysis bases on a gender aware, narrative review, which is an appropriate method when aggregating studies of different methodological approaches, covering broad and fragmented topics in different settings. The study analyzes the areas that have received sufficient research attention and those which are still under-developed.


Important gaps in the field are lack of theoretical foundations; an over emphasis on macro level indicators, such as culture and religion and an under emphasis on organizational level variables; a lack of studies that analyze female entrepreneurship within ethnic groups, or studies that acknowledge the complex social, cultural and religious diversity of the region; and inattention to particular regional experiences (e.g.refugees crisis) and emerging trends.Originality/value–This is the first integrative review of the literature in the growing field of female entrepreneurship in the MENA region that identifies areas of particular research interest and questions that are still under-developed. The study proposes further avenues for future research.