Moderating role of gender in influencing enterprise performance in emerging economies: Evidence from Saudi Arabian SMEs sector


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The small and medium enterprise (SME) sector plays an important role in the development of the local, regional, and global economy. This study seeks to examine the relationships among several factors that are claimed to influence the performance of SMEs. Internal and external environmental factors, as well as the moderating role of gender on the research variables, are empirically examined.
A survey of 142 entrepreneurs in the northern region of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, using convenience sampling was conducted. Path analysis was used to test the research model using the Partial Least Squares (PLS) model by Warp PLS (ver. 7). Results suggest that both internal and external success factors influence enterprise performance. Based on statistically significant relationships, entrepreneurial orientation, human capital, and entrepreneur goals and motives (internal factors), as well as economic factors, socio-cultural factors, and legal and administrative factors (external factors) are influencing SME performance. Additionally, results indicate that SMEs almost perform at similar levels regardless of the gender of the SME owner. Gender is found to moderate the influence of economic factors, and legal and administrative factors on performance. There is no indication that gender moderates the influence of the rest of the factors on the performance. Such finding is surprising given the context of the study, i.e. Saudi Arabia was traditionally considered as a conservative male-dominated society.

This study was supported and funded by the research sector of Arab Open University – Kuwait Branch under decision number 21002. Authors would like to thank the National Entrepreneurship Institute “RIYADAH”, Tabuk branch, KSA for their support in data collection.

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    • Figure 1. Conceptual model
    • Table 1. Scales development
    • Table 2. Demographic characteristic profiles of respondents (n = 142)
    • Table 3. Measurement model
    • Table 4. Correlations and square roots of AVE
    • Table 5. Path coefficients for the conceptual model
    • Conceptualization
      Hend Hassan, Ahmed Abdelkader, Rashed Alhaimer, Marwa Abdelkader
    • Data curation
      Hend Hassan, Rashed Alhaimer, Marwa Abdelkader
    • Investigation
      Hend Hassan, Rashed Alhaimer, Marwa Abdelkader
    • Methodology
      Hend Hassan, Ahmed Abdelkader
    • Project administration
      Hend Hassan
    • Supervision
      Hend Hassan
    • Writing – original draft
      Hend Hassan, Rashed Alhaimer, Marwa Abdelkader
    • Visualization
      Hend Hassan
    • Formal Analysis
      Ahmed Abdelkader
    • Funding acquisition
      Ahmed Abdelkader
    • Validation
      Ahmed Abdelkader
    • Writing – review & editing
      Ahmed Abdelkader