african american women entrepreneurs (aawe) research project


jeffrey robinson, ph.d., assistant professor of management & entrepreneurship

rutgers business school

laquita blockson, ph.d., assistant professor of management, policy and ethics

college of charleston

sammie robinson, ph.d., assistant professor of management

prairie view a&m university

we are pleased to announce the launch of a path-breaking research study on african american women entrepreneurs.  the purpose of this study, �doing it our way:economic and sociological influences on the success of african-american women entrepreneurs�,  is to discover and interpret the economic and sociological factors that account for the viability, growth, and sustainability of african-american women entrepreneurs.  in collaboration with drs. laquita blockson (assistant professor of management, policy and ethics, university of northern iowa) and sammie robinson, (assistant professor of management, illinois wesleyan university), professor robinson has already begun to conduct extensive individual and group interviews of successful african-american women entrepreneurs the new york metropolitan area.  the goal is to expand the data collection efforts to ten u.s. metropolitan areas:   new york city/new jersey/connecticut; kansas city, missouri and kansas; chicago, illinois; atlanta, georgia; washington, d.c./baltimore, maryland; los angeles, california; houston, texas; san francisco/oakland/san jose, california; seattle, washington; and, orlando, florida.

recent research projects have noted that �women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of new business start-ups, and black women�s businesses are a larger share of black-owned businesses than white women�s businesses are of all white firms.� yet, very little is known about the growth patterns of african american women-owned firms. this study may provide valuable findings in an area of importance to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners by focusing on the intersection of race, gender, and entrepreneurial growth.

beyond expanding the existing entrepreneurship literature, this study may be used by scholars as a foundation for subsequent empirical studies on african-american women entrepreneurs.  this study may also be used by small business development centers as a basis for creating new tools and methods that entrepreneurs (regardless of race or gender) use to attain and sustain profitability and competitive advantages, particularly those entrepreneurs whose ventures are in the nascent stage.  in a similar manner, professors who teach courses in entrepreneurship or women in business may also use our study�s findings to augment course content and pedagogy.  further, the study�s results may prove influential in creating new (or augmenting existing) policies and programs related to small business development and economic development

this research is funded by a generous grant from the kauffman foundation.


"alleviating poverty through business ownership" personal and professional success experienced by african ameriacn women "

published by the center for research on african american women journal, march 2007


much of the entrepreneurship literature supports the premise that economic and/or financial indicators serve as the primary determinants for entrepreneurial success. while economic and financial indicators are important, more recent studies are embracing the thought that non-economic/non-financial indicators � particularly from the entrepreneur�s point of view � may be as important as, or even more important than, economic and financial indicators for success.

in our ongoing study of african american women entrepreneurs of growth ventures, we discover that these women define entrepreneurial success for themselves in a multitude of ways, using both economic/financial indicators and non-economic/non-financial indicators. we believe their rich experiences � particularly given their status as minority entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs of growth firms � may provide evidence that can help shape an augmented definition for entrepreneurial success. we also believe our findings may have implications for how scholars reconsider the traditional views of minority entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial growth.

click here for a .pdf version of the paper.


"exploring stratification and entrepreneurship: african american women redefine success in growth ventures"

forthcoming in the annals of the american academy of political and social science, september 2007


the relationship between social stratification and entrepreneurship is one that is under-explored in the literature of management and organizations. in our view, social stratification (social structure, institutions and culture) influences the context, process, experience, and outcomes of entrepreneurship. in this paper, we discuss these relationships in the context of african american women engaged in high growth entrepreneurship. we support our premise by presenting the limitations of prevailing approaches that exist within the current minority and women entrepreneurship literatures. using the concept of entrepreneurial success as an example, we demonstrate how our social stratification and entrepreneurship framework may be useful for scholars who seek to understand the process of entrepreneurship.

click here for a .pdf version of the paper.

contact us for a copy of this paper by emailing: 

key words: african-american business ownership high growth entrepreneurship

the principal investigators

professor sammie robinson
professor blockson

picture of j. robnson

professor sammie robinson professor laquita blockson
professor jeffrey robinson

updated may 25, 2009 contact info at                   back to  dissertation  research    home

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