Gender Differences in Entrepreneurial Orientation in The Product Innovation of Manufacturing Small and Medium Enterprises
Small and medium enterprise sector is the focus of African and south African economic policies. To be sustainable, small businesses sector must be inclusive of all genders in its entrepreneurial approach in order to improve the product offerings and compete for the market against large businesses. The purpose of this study is to determine whether there are gender differences in entrepreneurial orientation (EO) in the product innovation of manufacturing small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A questionnaire was distributed to 300 owner-managers from a sample of SMEs in KwaZulu-Natal/South Africa. The findings confirm that there is no difference between men and women in the innovativeness, risk-taking and proactive ness in the product innovation of SMEs. Gender has no influence on the way the owner-managers approach innovation, decide to take risk and anticipate the market. This study recommends policy interventions to create full opportunities for women participation and involvement in the economic mainstream. It further recommends the support for women entrepreneurial initiatives in their attempt to contribute to the employment creation.
Keywords - Innovativeness, Risk Taking, Proactiveness, Gender, Product Innovation, SMEs