The purpose of this paper is to understand how Italian micro-entrepreneurs responded to the economic crisis and strategies they adopted to deal with it. A comparison between male and female entrepreneurs is presented, in order to understand if they adopted similar or different strategies. The paper also aims to understand if variables, other than gender, influenced strategies adopted to face the economic crisis. Drawing from a telephone questionnaire survey involving a sample of 300 (150 male and 150 female) owners of Italian micro-enterprises, located in Marche Region, findings suggest that entrepreneurs mostly dealt with the crisis through a defensive approach (restructuring and resizing strategies). Compared to men, female entrepreneurs had a lower propensity towards offensive strategies (innovation, development and growth). Differences in the approach towards the crisis were also identified with respect to company’s age, industry and impact of the crisis. These findings contribute to the debate on gender-based differences in behaviors, attitudes and preferences. Moreover, they can help to identify economic policy measures useful to help men and women entrepreneurs to address the crisis. Policy-makers who want to support female entrepreneurship should consider these aspects, in order to identify tools and policies that can help female firms to resist the crisis more effectively in the short-term and to seize new market opportunities in the recovery phase. The sample is restricted to sole proprietors and to a limited geographical context. So further analysis should involve companies of different sizes and located in different geographical contexts, both in Italy and abroad.
Part of the book: Entrepreneurship