Exploring business formalization processes in tanzania with a gender perspective

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study sought to explore and explain the role that gender plays in business formalization processes. It adopted a Straussian grounded theory approach with female and male participants that are business operators selected through theoretical sampling from education, furniture, food vending, personal services and trade sectors in Dar-es-salaam and Coast regions of Tanzania. Findings suggest that the key driver of motivation, decision and process of formalization is an operator‟s perceived meaning and value or “conceptualization of formalization” which is determined by an operator‟s awareness of role, benefits and procedures for formalizing a business. For individuals with un-favorable personal context, such as most females, their motivation, decision and process of formalization are also influenced by more powerful significant others‟ (such as spouses) conceptualization of formalization. As the latter inspire, exert pressure on or must sanction the formers‟ decisions. This challenges the widely held Resource Based View (RBV) that explains firm outcomes in terms of resources owned by a business operator. Business informality had previously been explained extrinsically from the economic, social, fiscal and regulatory perspectives. This study identifies strong intrinsic barriers in the form of ignorance and negative conceptualization of the process. Specifically, the study adds a gender perspective to explaining business informality. It suggests that a combination of low capacities, socialization processes and relationships between the more powerful and less powerful in low income societies like Tanzania engenders “volitional business informality” especially among the less powerful such as most females. Consequently, policy makers must take a holistic approach simultaneously addressing; awareness and capacity, regulatory and gender issues. It is also crucial to foster positive conceptualization among powerful members of society such as most males, even if they are not operating informally, as they influence the weaker such as most females in developing economies.
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Informal sector(Economics), Women in business, Businessmen, Small business, Tanzania
Utouh, J. L. (2011) Exploring business formalization processes in tanzania with a gender perspective, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. (Available at