Constrained but not contained: How marginalized entrepreneurs overcome institutional bias and mobilize resources

Nastaran Simarasl, David Jiang, Sheela Pandey, Chad Navis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Research Summary: In this study, we advance novel understandings of strategies that marginalized entrepreneurs use to overcome institutional bias and mobilize crucial resources. Using grounded theory, we analyzed qualitative interview data from 97 women entrepreneurs across Iran, India, and the United States to understand the source and nature of the institutional constraints they faced, the strategies they used to overcome these constraints, and the agency and legitimacy that ensued as a result. We found that marginalized entrepreneurs engaged in three focal strategies: family transmutation, ally activation, and enabler cooptation. We propose that these strategies enhance marginalized entrepreneurs' likelihood of securing needed resources, but with different consequences for their agency and legitimacy. We offer several contributions to entrepreneurial resource mobilization and institutional literatures. Managerial Summary: This study explores how marginalized entrepreneurs gain agency, legitimacy, and other resources in the face of institutional biases. Our findings from interviews with 97 women entrepreneurs in Iran, India, and the United States show that when marginalized entrepreneurs face biases from their families, they can use a family transmutation strategy to gain family support and enhance their agency and legitimacy. Furthermore, marginalized entrepreneurs who encounter constraints from non-family members can use an ally activation strategy to alleviate these constraints and enhance their agency and legitimacy. Finally, we found that in the face of self-constraints that marginalized entrepreneurs impose on themselves, the use of an enabler cooptation strategy may have an adverse effect on their agency and legitimacy, even though it may facilitate their temporary resource access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-888
Number of pages36
JournalStrategic Entrepreneurship Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


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