Reliability analysis results.
This paper highlights the dimensions of emotional quotients (EQ) of Malay women entrepreneurs who own either micro enterprises or small and medium size enterprises in Klang Valley, Malaysia. EQ comprise of five dimensions which are social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, and empathy. About 1000 questionnaires were distributed around Klang Valley, Malaysia, with a 20% response rate. Out of 200, only 169 questionnaires were able to be used for the analysis of this study. The findings show that the most important dimension of EQ during economic crisis was self-regulation followed by self-motivation, empathy, social skills, and self-awareness. After the economic crisis, the most important dimension was self-awareness followed by social skills, self-motivation, self-regulation, and empathy. Hence, emotional quotients are important for Malay women entrepreneurs during the economic crisis to remain positive and endure business challenges in managing their business operations for business sustainability. The findings also highlighted that after the economic crisis, the focus was more towards facing business challenges from employees, customers, and other stakeholders due to increasing demand in products/services and business activities. To conclude, all the elements of each dimension were considered important for Malay women entrepreneurs during and after the economic crisis.
According to the former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, he stated that with the implementation of National Entrepreneurship Policy, Malaysia is expected to be a true entrepreneurial nation by 2030 . Entrepreneurship is an ongoing process for business continuity and development that contributes to the economic development process of a country. In Malaysia, entrepreneurship is an area that can enhance the quality of life of women, in particular single mother .
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the Malaysian population in 2020 is estimated to be 32.7 million as compared to 32.5 million in 2019. Overall, there are more males than females. Based on the report released on July 2020, the male population which is about16.8 million outnumbered females which is only 15.9million in 2020. The Malay is the majority of Bumiputera (native people) population, was the highest with 69.3 percent in 2019 and it is estimated that there would be an increase by 0.03 percent in 2020 . However, in the economic sector, the Malays, being the majority did not perform in parallel with the total population .
The Chinese community has been monopolizing more than 50 percent of the economic activity in Malaysia . Thus, the Malaysian government has made many initiatives to encourage more Malay or Bumiputra (native people) to become entrepreneurs . Past literatures highlighted that the Malaysian government has been very concerned about developing and promoting entrepreneurship especially for women entrepreneurs [6, 7].
Hence, it is about time to further explore the emotional quotients of Malay women entrepreneurs who face business challenges in Malaysia. Thus, the purpose of this study is to investigate the important elements and dimensions of Emotional Quotients among Malay women entrepreneurs during the economic crisis and after the crisis which contribute towards business sustainability.
2. Literature review
This section discusses Malay women entrepreneurs, and emotional quotients.
2.1 Malay women entrepreneurs
The inherent attitude of a patriarchal society which claims that men are superior to women and that women are best suited to play the reproductive roles pose significant challenges for Malay Muslim women entrepreneurs . Malay women entrepreneurs also must face many challenges in the business and economic sector as this field is monopolized by males and other ethnics in Malaysia .
In support of the inclusion of women in economic activities, the 2021 budget highlights several initiatives to provide for women entrepreneurs. Among the allocations given are RM 95 million for special micro financing through Tekun, Mara and Agrobank for women entrepreneurs .
However, with the advancement of technology nowadays, there are many opportunities and platforms to encourage women participation in entrepreneurship activities. For example, recent studies point out that a large portion of new entrepreneurs on the Shopee platform are women and they are a strong force in driving rural entrepreneurs . Thus, with the presence of social media and e-commerce platform today, Malay women entrepreneurs will be able to grow in this field along with males and other ethnics in Malaysia.
2.2 Emotional quotients
Emotional Quotient (EQ) can be defined as the competence of a person to understand one’s own emotions with respect to other people emotions and it can be learnt or nurtured [10, 11]. Emotional quotients consist of five major dimensions which are self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills . The first dimension, self-awareness can be defined as the skills to evaluate, judge, and comprehend emotions, and internal issues. The second dimension is self-regulation that can be defined as the skills to manage and regulate one’s own impulses and emotions. The third dimension is self-motivation which are skills related to goals attainment, that includes passion and enjoyment with work-related challenges. The fourth dimension is empathy while the fifth dimension is social awareness which are skills related to understanding other people’s emotions and reacting to the emotions. The last dimension is social skills that can be defined as the skills in communication that are able to inspire and influence others to get a favorable response from them [13, 14].
Hence, an entrepreneur must have high EQ due to the nature of the business that requires them to deal with employees, customers, suppliers etc. on a daily basis. Those high in EQ able to work effectively in teams and can build strong social capital in the company that improve business performance. Moreover, EQ has a direct relationship with job efficiency, operational success, and leadership [15–17].
Thus, it is highly critical to identify whether these dimensions of EQ are important or critical for Malay women entrepreneurs during and after economic crises.
This section focuses on a brief discussion on sampling and data collection, questionnaires development, ethical considerations, and reliability analysis.
3.1 Sampling and data collection
About 1,000 questionnaires were distributed in Klang Valley to micro and small medium enterprises business owners consisting of Malay women entrepreneurs. The questionnaires were collected after seven days. About 200 Malay women entrepreneurs participated in the survey at 20% response rate, However, only 169 questionnaires were deemed complete and usable for analysis. The remaining 31 questionnaires could not be used due to incomplete information in Section B.
3.2 Questionnaire development
The questionnaires comprised of two sections which are Section A and Section B. Section A uses nominal scale to identify information related to respondent personal information and business information. Meanwhile, Section B is on items for each emotional quotient (EQ) dimensions which are self-awareness (5 items), self- regulation (5 items), self-motivation (5 items), empathy (5 items), and social skills (7 items). Five-point Likert scale was used to measure the respondents’ agreement with the statements for each item, with 1 for Strongly Disagree, 2 for Disagree, 3 for Neutral, 4 for Agree, and 5 for Strongly Agree.
3.3 Ethical consideration
The challenges faced during the data collection were due to the hectic schedule and availability of Malay women entrepreneurs to respond to the survey. Nevertheless, they were given freedom to respond to the survey at their convenience. They were not forced to participate or respond to the study.
3.4 Reliability analysis
The reliability analysis were performed using SPSS Software on each dimension of emotional quotients was noted to be within the acceptable range of between 0.7 and 0.8 (refer to Table 1). The Cronbach Alpha value for self-awareness α = 0.707 during crisis and α = 0.734 after crisis (5 items). The scale statistics for self-awareness during crisis is a mean of 20.57 with variance of 5.09, and standard deviation of 2.26. Meanwhile, after crisis the mean is 20.89 with variance of 4.42 and standard deviation of 2.11.
|During Crisis||After Crisis|
|Total Items||Cronbach’s Alpha||Total Items||Cronbach’s Alpha|
Self-regulation α = 0.80 during crisis and α = 0.76 after crisis (for 5 items). The scale statistics for self-regulation during crisis is the mean of 21.62 with a variance of 5.713 and standard deviation is 2.39. After crisis, the mean for self-regulation after crisis is 20.25 with a variance of 5.21 and standard deviation 2.28.
Self-motivation α = 0.717 during crisis and α = 0.714 after crisis (5 items). The scale statistics during crisis for motivation skills shows a mean of 21.06 with variance of 4.33 and standard deviation of 2.08, and after crisis with a mean of 20.79, variance 4.213 and standard deviation 2.05.
As for the empathy dimension the mean is 20.80 with variance 4.37, and standard deviation of 2.09, whereas after the crisis the mean is 20.24 with variance 3.97 and standard deviation of 1.99.
Social Skills α = 0.716 during crisis and α = 0.73 after crisis (7 items). For social skills dimension, during the crisis the mean is 29.10 with variance 6.97 and standard deviation of 2.64, and for after crisis the mean is 29.14 with variance 5.80 and standard deviation of 2.41.
Hence, since all items have high internal consistency, none of the items were deleted, and all items are considered reliable.
4. Analysis and findings
This section is a brief discussion on the respondent profiles, descriptive analysis of the items in each dimension, and correlation analysis between the dimensions, and correlation of EQ with business sustainability and profitability.
4.1 Respondent profiles
In Table 2, 169 Malay women entrepreneurs responded to the survey with about 10.1% aged from 20 to 30 years old, 35.5% between 31 to 40 years old, 33.7% between age 41 and 50 years old, and 20.7% aged more than 50. In terms of education of the respondents, about 29% of Malay women entrepreneurs had a qualification of PMR, 31.4% with SPM, 24.9% with Diploma, 5.9% with Bachelor’s degree, and 8.9% with either a Master or PhD.
|20–30 years old|
31–40 years old
41–50 years old
More than 50 years old
Master and above
More than 20 years
The business have been in operation around 11 to 15 years for 39.1% of the entrepreneurs, 6 to 10 years for 22.5%, 16 to 20 years for 17.8%, 3 to 5 years for 15.4%, and more than 20 years for about 5.3%. In terms of types of business ownership, about 87% were classified as sole proprietorship, 8.9% partnership, and 4.1% private limited.
The number of employees who worked for the women entrepreneurs were about 4.1% with 1 to 5 employees, 78.1% with 6 to 10 employees, and 17.8% with 11 to 15 employees. About 83.4% had loans, and 100% believed their business will sustain for next 20 years, 84% will sustain forever, while about 75.7% did not earn profit last year, and 86.4% also were expecting not to earn profit the following year.
4.2 Descriptive analysis on items for EQ dimensions
This section briefly discusses the descriptive analysis of each item in self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills.
4.2.1 Self: Awareness: During and after crisis
All items for self-awareness are important during and after economic crisis (refer Table 3). However, the top three most critical elements are self-control and tasks control (mean = 4.20; s.d. = 0.62), confident in managing business (mean = 4.14; s.d. = 0.70), and confident and have pride with the business (mean = 4.11; s.d. = 0.64) during economic crisis. After economic crisis are confident and have pride with the business (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.64), confident and work hard for the business (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.63), and confident with own decision (mean = 4.17; s.d. = 0.56).
|Items Self- Awareness||During Crisis||After Crisis||N|
|Mean||Std. Deviation||Mean||Std. Deviation|
|Confident with own decision.||4.07||0.67||0.56||169|
|Self-control and tasks control.||0.62||4.16||0.57||169|
|Confident in managing the business.||0.70||4.14||0.62||169|
|Confident and work hard for the business.||4.05||0.69||0.63||169|
|Confident and have pride with the business.||0.64||0.64||169|
4.2.2 Self-regulation – During and after crisis
All elements for self-regulation are critical during and after economic crisis (refer Table 4). However, the top three most critical elements during economic crisis are fair (mean = 4.41; s.d. = 0.63), ethical (mean = 4.40; s.d. = 0.65), and objective (mean = 4.35; s.d. = 0.66) in managing business. Whereas, after economic crisis are patient (mean = 4.17; s.d. = 0.65), fair (mean = 4.09; s.d. = 0.65), and objective (mean = 4.09; s.d. = 0.64) in managing business.
|Items Self-Regulation||During Crisis||After Crisis||N|
|Mean||Std. Deviation||Mean||Std. Deviation|
|Ethical in managing the business.||0.65||3.93||0.62||169|
|Patient in facing business challenges.||4.24||0.61||0.65||169|
|Fair in managing the business.||0.63||0.65||169|
|Multitasking and good in time management.||4.22||0.65||3.97||0.64||169|
|Objective in managing the business.||0.66||0.64||169|
4.2.3 Self-motivation – During and after crisis
All elements for self-motivation are important during and after economic crisis (refer to Table 5). The findings shows that the top three most important elements during crisis are controlling operation cost (mean = 4.25; s.d. = 0.65), enduring all challenges to keep positive business culture (mean = 4.25; s.d. = 0.62), and positive in facing business challenges (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.60). Meanwhile, after crisis the top three most important elements are keeping employee interest in any circumstances (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.65), controlling operation costs (mean = 4.18; s.d. = 0.60), and ensuring business operation run smoothly (mean = 4.17; s.d. = 0.60).
|Items – Self-Motivation||During Crisis||After Crisis||N|
|Mean||Std. Deviation||Mean||Std. Deviation|
|Positive in facing business challenges.||0.60||4.14||0.57||169|
|Ensure my business operation run smoothly.||4.19||0.55||0.60||169|
|Endure all challenges to keep positive business culture.||0.61||4.10||0.60||169|
|Control operation cost in enduring business challenges.||0.65||0.60||169|
|Keep employee interest in any circumstances.||4.15||0.63||0.65||169|
4.2.4 Empathy – During and after crisis
All elements for empathy are important as seen in Table 6 that shows all the mean scores are above 4.00 out of 5-point Likert scales. The top three most important elements during business crisis are understanding problem faced by employees and give them time to solve it (mean = 4.25; s.d. = 0.63), ensuring family matters given priority (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.59), and being cautious on ethical business issues and know how to face it (mean = 4.14; s.d. = 0.60). However, after business crisis, it is critical to empathize on others and fully understand their situation (mean = 4.12; s.d. = 0.58), ensure family matters given priority (mean = 4.05; s.d. = 0.60), and understanding the problem faced by employees (mean = 4.05; s.d. = 0.50).
|Items Empathy||During Crisis||After Crisis||N|
|Mean||Std. Deviation||Mean||Std. Deviation|
|Cautious on ethical business issues and know how to face it.||0.60||4.02||0.57||169|
|Empathize on others and fully understand their situation.||4.11||0.62||0.58||169|
|Ensure family matters given priority and allow employee to settle their family matters.||0.59||0.60||169|
|Understand the problem faced by employees and give them time to solve it.||0.63||0.50||169|
|Put initiatives to help employees.||4.09||0.64||4.01||0.58||169|
4.2.5 Social skills – During and after crisis
All elements for social skills are important during and after crisis (refer to Table 7). However, the top three most important elements during crisis are special unit to manage communication (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.62), negotiation techniques to get cooperation (mean = 4.20; s.d. = 0.63), and special unit to inspire others (mean = 4.20; s.d. = 0.61) as critical during business crisis. However, after crisis the top three most important elements are evaluation on abilities to inspire others (mean = 4.20; s.d. = 0.57), give full attention in giving inspiration (mean = 4.18; s.d. = 0.56), and give full attention when communication (mean = 4.18; s.d. = 0.55).
|Items – Social Skills||During Crisis||After Crisis||N|
|Mean||Std. Deviation||Mean||Std. Deviation|
|Use negotiation techniques to get cooperation.||0.63||4.10||0.53||169|
|Give full attention when communicating.||4.12||0.64||0.55||169|
|Give full attention in giving inspiration.||4.08||0.66||0.56||169|
|Evaluate abilities in communication.||4.15||0.57||4.17||0.56||169|
|Evaluate abilities to inspire others.||4.15||0.65||0.57||169|
|Special unit to manage communication.||0.62||4.16||0.55||169|
|Special unit to inspire others.||0.61||4.14||0.58||169|
4.3 Correlation analysis
This section is a brief discussion on the dimensions for EQ during and after economic crisis.
4.3.1 Correlation for the five dimensions of EQ during economic crisis
The most important dimension for EQ during economic crisis is Self-regulation (mean = 4.32; s.d. =0.48), followed by Self-Motivation (mean = 4.21; s.d. = 0.42), Empathy (mean = 4.16; s.d. = 0.42), Social skills (mean = 4.16; s.d. = 0.37), and Self-Awareness (mean = 4.11; s.d. = 0.45) (refer Table 8).
From the Pearson Correlation (refer to Table 9), none of the dimensions have any relationship, hence, during economic crisis, all dimensions for EQ on its own and not related to each other.
4.3.2 Correlation for the five dimensions of EQ after economic crisis
The most important dimensions for EQ are Self-Awareness (mean = 4.18; s.d. = 0.42), Social Skills (mean = 4.16; s.d. = 0.34), Self-Motivation (mean = 4.16; s.d. = 0.41), Self-regulation (mean = 4.05; s.d. = 0.45), and empathy (mean = 4.05; s.d. =0.39) (refer Table 10).
The Pearson correlation analysis shows that there is only one significant relationship between self-awareness and self-motivation (
Figure 1 summarizes and discusses the findings in Section 5.1 and Section 5.2.
5.1 The importance dimensions and elements for EQ during economic crisis
During the economic crisis, all dimensions of EQ are important for Malay women entrepreneurs. Firstly, most of the Malay women entrepreneurs agreed they should self-regulate by being more ethical, fair, and objective in managing their businesses when facing the economic crisis.
Secondly, most of the Malay women entrepreneurs agreed that self-motivation was highly needed in facing economic challenges to keep positive business cultures, controlling operational costs, and be positive in facing business challenges during the economic crisis.
Thirdly, empathy as the third dimension of EQ was considered to be important, whereby they need to understand problems faced by employees, prioritize family matters, and be cautious of ethical business issues.
Fourthly, for social skills, the Malay women entrepreneurs agreed that they should use special unit to communicate with employees, inspire employees, and use negotiation techniques to get cooperation from others (employees, customers, etc.).
Finally, self-awareness as the last dimension was also important during the economic crisis. Most of the Malay women entrepreneurs agreed that during the economic crisis they should be able to perform self-control and tasks control, be confident in managing the business, and have pride with their business to ensure business sustainability.
5.2 The importance dimensions and elements for EQ after the economic crisis
Figure 1 shows that after the economic crisis the most important dimensions in terms of the sequence also changed significantly, whereby the first dimension was self-awareness followed by social skills, self-motivation, self-regulation, and empathy. Hence, the focus of the Malay women entrepreneurs after the economic crisis was to focus more on expanding and earning more profits as compared to during the economic crisis. In short, most of the most important dimensions and elements are more focused on business sustainability.
The first dimension is self-awareness that focuses on being confident and working hard for the business followed by having confidence and pride with their business venture, and confident with the ability to make decisions as the top three elements important after the economic crisis.
The second important dimension is social skills, as agreed by most Malay women entrepreneurs where they must evaluate their abilities to inspire others, followed by the ability to give full attention when giving inspiration, and communicating with others.
The third dimension is self-motivation whereby the Malay women entrepreneurs agreed that must keep the employees’ interest in any circumstances, should keep on controlling operational costs, and must ensure that the business operation runs smoothly. Thus, at this stage the focus is more on efficient business operations to serve increasing demands after the economic crisis.
The fourth dimension is self-regulation that includes having patience, being fair and objective in running the business after the economic crisis. In other words, most women entrepreneurs agreed that they must be prepared when facing stiff competition and increasing demand after the economic crisis.
The fifth or the last dimension is empathy. After the economic s crisis, it is critical to empathize on others and fully understand their situation (employees, customers, etc.), ensure family matters are given priority, and understand the problems faced by employees. In short, after the economic crisis, most Malay women entrepreneurs agreed that they must remain empathizing with employees for smooth business operations, customers for income or profit generation, and other stakeholders to sustain their business operations.
As an entrepreneur whether male or female, they are human beings, hence they have emotions. Thus, it is pertinent for them to understand the emotional quotients or emotional intelligence in sustaining and growing their business venture . Thus, this paper has highlighted the findings on emotional quotients or emotional intelligence among Malay women entrepreneurs while facing economic crisis, and after the economic crisis. These findings can be used not only for Malay women entrepreneurs but for women entrepreneurs in general. As can be seen, women entrepreneurs is more caring in terms of the top three elements for empathy has indicated women are motherly and concern of other people situation, problems, and etc. The highlight of the findings are the important dimensions during the economic crisis as agreed by most Malay women entrepreneurs who participated in this study which are self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, social skills, and self-awareness. Whereas, after the economic crisis the most important dimensions identified are self-awareness, social skills, self-motivation, self-regulation, and empathy. In fact, after the economic crisis, the findings show those Malay women entrepreneurs with high self-awareness also have high self-motivation, and vice versa.
We would like to dedicate special appreciation for FRGS Grant granted to fund this study by Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia with reference FRGS/1/2017/SS03/UNIKL/02/4.
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Conflict of interest
“The authors declare no conflict of interest.”
Appreciation to Universiti Kuala Lumpur, and UniKL Business School for supporting this book chapter publication.