Entrepreneurship plays a major role in economic development and social stability of nations. It helps foster economic activities and improves standards of living among communities. Female entrepreneurship has been the focus area of not only politicians, but economists and also sociologists due to its benefits to societies in general and women and their families specifically. While women have achieved remarkable progress in the developed countries, they still face many barriers and still struggle in the developing world. Most governments in the world have allocated much attention and efforts to promote female entrepreneurship. The Kingdom of Bahrain is not exempted from this current trend and women entrepreneurship has been seriously discussed in seminars and national workshops with the aim of assessing the challenges women face and the possible measures to be taken to free women from the restrictions of social and cultural practices and beliefs.
This thesis will therefore attempt to build on the existing empirical literature on female entrepreneurship by qualitatively analyzing the impact of formal and informal institutions on female entrepreneurs. Particularly, the analysis will be addressed towards the environmental and socio-cultural factors and their role in shaping female entrepreneurs in the Kingdom of Bahrain. To achieve this, North (1990, 2005) institutional theory is used as the main theoretical framework. The main research objectives of the thesis is to study the role of institution environment in shaping female
entrepreneurship in the case of Kingdom of Bahrain. Particularly, this thesis explores the relevance of formal and informal institutions to female entrepreneurial activities.
The analysis reveals that although both formal (financing, non-economic support, education) and informal factors (perception of skills, family, social network) affect female entrepreneurship, informal institutions display more relevance than formal institutions on female entrepreneurs in the Kingdom of Bahrain. These results provide insights at an academic and practical level. They built up on the existing literature using institutional theory as a theoretical background, and fill a gap in the literature conducted on the Middle East and Gulf region. Hence, contributing to a better understanding of the development of the role of formal and informal institutions for female entrepreneurship in developing countries. Also, they offer new insights to government policy towards promoting female entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Bahrain as well as allowing non-economic support programs taking further measures to improve female perceptions in undertaking entrepreneurial activities and this may lead to a higher rates of start-ups.