Gender and the crowd : differential effectiveness of justifications used by entrepreneurs in their crowdfunding pitches




Srinivas, Santosh B.

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In this dissertation, I examine gender differences in entrepreneurs’ access to financial capital in crowdfunding settings. Using Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) theory of justification, I conceptualize the varied ways entrepreneurs legitimate and justify their funding requests on crowdfunding platforms. Contextualizing to prosocial crowdfunding - online platforms that connect entrepreneurs seeking financial capital to resource providers who are motivated by the desire to benefit others - I theorize about gender differences in the effectiveness of various types of justifications. More specifically, building on research on prosocial behaviors and literature on gender differences in values, attitudes, behaviors, and information processing, I develop hypotheses about (1) differences in the justifications women and men entrepreneurs use in their crowdfunding pitches; (2) differential effects the use of specific justifications have on raising capital through prosocial crowdfunding avenues for women and men entrepreneurs, and (3) differences in the appeal of justifications to women and men prosocial crowdfunding investors. I test predictions using a dataset of pitches made on a microlending-based prosocial crowdfunding platform. In Study 1 based on a sample of US pitches, I largely find support for the gender effect on entrepreneurs’ use of justifications predicted based on gender role theory. Findings suggest that women entrepreneurs are more likely than men entrepreneurs to use inspired and domestic justifications, and less likely than men entrepreneurs to use civic, market, and industrial justifications in their crowdfunding pitches. In Study 2, drawing on a multi-country sample of crowdfunding pitches, I show that entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed in crowdfunding when using justifications that emphasize the emancipatory potential of their undertakings. More specifically, I find that women and men entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed in raising financial capital when they use emancipatory justifications that counteract certain stereotypical gender expectations. Similarly drawing on a multi-country sample of pitches, I observe in Study 3 that women and men prosocial investors on crowdfunding platforms, contrary to expectations, do not differ much in their preferences towards pitches using specific justifications. I discuss how the findings extend the literature and outline the limitations of studies.



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