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‘Strategic (dis)obedience’: Female entrepreneurs reflecting on and acting upon patriarchal practices

It has been suggested that entrepreneurship is a form of emancipation and social change for women. We adopt a more comprehensive view by considering micro‐emancipation at the level of both agency and identity of women entrepreneurs in patriarchal and Islamic societies. We borrow from organization studies literature to draw on the notions of the dynamic and ongoing process between dominators (i.e., men of the patriarchal family) and the dominated (i.e., women entrepreneurs). In this process micro‐emancipation and active obedience are intertwined. For this purpose, we contextualize the study in the United Arab Emirates, where men of the family regulate women's agency and identity. The men of the family are not only the gatekeepers of societal culture, but also the potential supporters for women to navigate the societal arrangements. By adopting an interpretive approach, we analyse the narratives of Emirati female entrepreneurs in their early stages of becoming an entrepreneur who engage in strategic (dis)obedience. The article contributes to the literature on micro‐emancipation in the context of gender and entrepreneurship.

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