Business Startups and Development of South Korean Women Entrepreneurs in the IT Industry

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The Problem Research on South Korean women entrepreneurs in the information technology (IT) industry is limited, and thus learning how they start and develop their businesses will address a gap in the literature. In addition, as our previous study on women entrepreneurs in Korea encompassed all industries, we did not sufficiently capture how women entrepreneurs in the IT industry started and developed their businesses. We feel a strong need to conduct a follow-up study on three women entrepreneurs who (a) started an IT business to become independent; (b) have stayed in their businesses for approximately 20 years; and (c) became role models as women entrepreneurs in the industry.

The Solution We conducted semi-structured interviews with three women entrepreneurs in the IT industry and analyzed each case on three themes: motivation, challenges, and success factors. Although each case has its distinctive features, we found that all cases had success factors in common: technical expertise, positive outlook, adherence to business principles, work centrality, and networking. Particularly, the three women entrepreneurs’ positive outlook was the key success factor that helped them overcome challenges they faced in business development.

The Stakeholders Given the study findings on women entrepreneurs’ personal factors (e.g., positive outlook, technical expertise) and external factors (e.g., networking), human resource development (HRD) practitioners can develop leadership programs to share those success factors with aspiring women entrepreneurs in Korea and other countries so that they can develop their own competencies and strategies from early on.