Questioning boundedly rational frameworks in practice: The case of women entrepreneurs in Kumasi, Ghana

Arielle Badger Newman, Sharon Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Management research has a foundation in bounded rationality, wherein individuals seek to make the best choice to satisfy preferences within limits posed by informational incompleteness. This work addresses how the notion of rationality that models Western, male centric business concerns is not universal. Gender has been left out of the assumptions of boundedly rational models and the use of these models often advantage men at the expense of women. The work in this paper explores the absence of gender in the assumptions of bounded rationality and how this theory is applied in emerging contexts. The paper explores the structural obstacles based on bounded rationality that are imposed on women's businesses and their decision-making and how these obstacles constrain the potential of female entrepreneurs. The paper examines these issues through 220 interviews with stakeholders in the Kumasi Central Market social system in Kumasi, Ghana. The evidence shows that when considering business registration, what is most salient to entrepreneurs is the prevailing cultural expectations for men and women, despite female economic and social prowess as entrepreneurs that predated this business registration laws by centuries. This tension between expectations for female entrepreneurial competency and the simultaneous marginalization of female entrepreneurs using frameworks based on bounded rationality is explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106205
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Bounded rationality
  • Development
  • Female entrepreneurship
  • Gender
  • Informal economy
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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