Corporate Social Capital and SME Owner-Managers: Exploring the Impact of Gender

Laura Steele, Martin McCracken

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The purpose of this study is to enhance understanding of the impact of gender on the perceived accrual of corporate social capital by Small to Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) owner-managers in Northern Ireland.

This qualitative research study utilises a multiple case study approach. The empirical evidence is based on data collected through in-depth interviews with 34 SME owner-managers who are actively involved in either service or sporting clubs in Northern Ireland.

The findings of this study suggest that while female SME owner-managers are generally not lacking in motivation or ability, they are regularly denied the opportunity to generate social capital. The reasons for this are complex and multifaceted, but may be distilled down into three broad categories: prevailing attitudes towards women; lack of time due to an unequal division of labour in the home; and persistent (though at times invisible) structural inequalities.

Research Implications/Limitations
The data collected offers tangible examples of how SMEs have benefited from their owner-managers expanding their social network by joining an organisation based in their local community. However, access to these advantages may be determined, at least in part, by the individual’s gender.

Social Implications
A key social implication arising from the research is the impact of gender on an individual’s opportunities to generate corporate social capital.

The study offers a valuable insight into the experiences of female SME owner-managers and the factors that may serve to limit the size and diversity of their social networks.

Key Words
Social Capital; SMEs; Owner-Mangers; Networking; Gender
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2019
EventIrish Academy of Management - National College of Ireland , Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 28 Aug 201930 Aug 2019
Conference number: 22,-national-college-of-ireland.html


ConferenceIrish Academy of Management
Abbreviated titleIAM
Internet address


  • #UNSustainableDevelopmentGoals
  • #PRME


Dive into the research topics of 'Corporate Social Capital and SME Owner-Managers: Exploring the Impact of Gender'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this