“Networks, Technology, and Entrepreneurship: A Field Quasi-Experiment among Women in Rural India” by Professor Viswanath Venkatesh
Professor Viswanath Venkatesh
Department of Information Systems
The Sam M. Walton College of Business
University of Arkansas
We address a grand economic challenge faced by women in rural India. We hypothesized about the interplay of women’s social networks (ties to family, ties to community, and ties to men in power), information and communication technology (ICT) use, and time in relating to the initiation and success of women’s entrepreneurial ventures. The results from a 7-year field quasi-experiment in 20 rural villages in India provided substantial support for the model. Ties to family and community positively, and ties to men in power negatively, related to ICT use, entrepreneurial activity, and entrepreneurial profit. The ICT intervention also had a strong effect on entrepreneurship, with 160 new businesses in the 10 intervention villages compared to 40 new businesses in the control villages. The results also provide evidence of the dynamic interplay of social networks and ICT use. For ties to family and community, an amplification effect was found such that the highest levels of entrepreneurial activity and success were observed among women with high centrality and ICT use, effects that were stronger over time. For ties to men in power, a substitution pattern was found such that either ties to men in power or ICT use was associated with high entrepreneurial activity, again with strengthening effects over the 7-year study window. However, this temporal pattern did not hold in the case of profit. We address the implications of our research for the grand challenges of empowering women in less developed countries.