Rast i razvoj malih i srednjih preduzeća u vlasništvu preduzetnica
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The entrepreneurial activity of women affirms its importance for improving the economic status of women, but also for the overall socio-economic progress of a society. Therefore, it becomes an emerging research area. A comprehensive understanding of female entrepreneurial activity requires a national samples’ research which would contribute to the development of the knowledge base in this field. After establishing a conceptual framework for the realization of the empirical research in the Republic of Serbia, the intention is to give a scientific and academic conceived contribution to the understanding and promoting of female entrepreneurial activity in the Republic of Serbia. The aim is to depict the current situation, to identify the main barriers for improving the performances and growth of women-owned enterprises in the Republic of Serbia, and to point out to the similarities and differences in relation to the global experience in this field. The hypotheses were empirically verified... by performing a statistical analysis of primary and secondary data. The secondary data were generated from reports of relevant institutions, while the primary data were collected in a field research conducted through surveys, that is – an online questionnaire. The implementation period of the field research was from July to October 2014. The sampling units were micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which are registered and entrepreneurs, while the survey units were the owners and also managers of these business entities. The coverage area of the sample was limited to the cities of Niš and Novi Sad. The sampling frame was the base of the Serbian Business Registers Agency from which a random sample of 327 units was generated. The realization of the sample was 101 units. The set of used statistical methods includes: indicators from the field of descriptive statistics (frequency distributions, measures of central tendency), the Shapiro-Wilk test for testing the normality of data distribution, statistical tests for assessing the differences in the mean values (t-test, one-sided ANOVA, Mann-Whitney, Kruskal-Wallis), the χ2 test of independence, and the method of linear regression (simple, multiple and hierarchical multiple regression). In order to adapt the data for analysis, in cases where necessary, multiple response data sets were created, data reduction was performed by separating the key components (PCA), certain variables were dummy coded, while certain responses were reverse coded. As well, where needed, the internal consistency of a scale (Cronbach α) was measured. The obtained results indicate that, similarly to the situation in the global environment, there is a gender gap in the scope of the entrepreneurial activity in the Republic of Serbia, in favour of men. A gender gap of the same direction exists regarding the performances (net profit) and the growth (employment rate) of female and male owned businesses. The multidimensional nature of the performances and the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises was confirmed by the results which indicate that the net profit and the employment growth of the SMEs in the Republic of Serbia are determined by factors that refer to the characteristics of the entrepreneur (human, social capital and family variables), the characteristics of the enterprise (business sector, the geographical scope of the market, the age of the company), the management practices and strategies (the nature of the business objectives, the development of planning activities, innovation strategy, the use of alternative forms of financing) and the characteristics of the socio-cultural environment. Regarding the condition and the character of the impact of a number of factors, the obtained results confirmed the existence of differences between the female and male entrepreneurs in the Republic of Serbia. By bringing these results together, it can be stated (primarily at the sample level) that the gender gap in the performances and growth of women-owned enterprises and those owned by men can be explained by the fact that the value of the majority of factors that have a negative impact on performances and growth is higher in a group of female entrepreneurs, while the value of the most of the factors with a positive effect on performances and growth is smaller in a group of female entrepreneurs. The obtained results are a basis for identifying the specific areas toward which the female entrepreneurship support measures should be directed. In that sense, the practical implications of the study refer to defining the specific recommendations for a financial and non-financial support of the entrepreneurial activity of women in the Republic of Serbia.