This chapter is among the first to examine the interplay between deinstitutionalization and the rollout of novel business models by women entrepreneurs in developing countries. Much of the existing literature has examined the ways in which policy directives by formal institutions are the key drivers of entrepreneurial activity among women. Implicitly, this orientation suggests that the fate of women entrepreneurs is tied to, and cascades from, macro-level deinstitutionalization efforts, arising through changes in policies, laws and regulations championed at the highest levels. While this top-down view may intuitively be attractive, there are empirical reasons to doubt that the “institutional cascading” model accurately captures the underlying mechanisms of entrepreneurial activity among women. Taking a radically different tack, we develop and test an alternative, market-based perspective in which novel business models developed by women drive deinstitutionalization in bottom-up fashion. The context for our study involves detailed case histories of 95 women who started new businesses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 1960–2012. Using a question-driven research design, our findings indicate that deinstitutionalization is strongly associated with the timing and substance of entrepreneurial action taken by MENA women.
Part of the book: Entrepreneurship