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Female Entrepreneurship in Asia: The Case of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam

Soka University




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Women in business Women entrereneurship Female entrepreneurship Entrerpreneurship

Female Entrepreneurship in Asia: The Case of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam

Female Entrepreneurship in Asia: The Case of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam

The Female Entrepreneurship in Asia: The Case of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam report concentrates on the significance given to female entrepreneurship and on the policies pursued to promote it.  The article aims to analyse the current situation of female entrepreneurs in these four countries, to explain the reasons and conditions of development, and to place female entrepreneurship in its social, political and economic context.

The information used in this article comes from field studies carried out by the author from 2003 to 2011. The four countries were selected because they are at different stages of economic development but share a certain number of characteristics of historical, socio-cultural and religious nature, such as the influence of Buddhism and Confucianism, that impact on the socioeconomic roles of the women in society and on business practices. At the same time, they also share a certain number of similarities on industrial policy and national models of innovation that prevailed during the last fifty years, as well as on the reforms of the economic model undertaken during the last two decades.


  • Similar to Europe since the 1990s (European Commission 2006) a process of “mainstreaming” started in the four countries. The new legislative measures encompass female labour-related issues in a global perspective. It can lead to policies of positive discrimination as in Korea and in Japan, although that is not necessarily the case. The important point is that the need for a differentiated policy approach integrating the gender perspective is recognised. The female dimension is now treated in all ministries in its social, economic and political aspects. It is not confined anymore in organisations and ministries whose activities are limited to issues of social and family nature.
  • In Malaysia and in Vietnam, crucial in the development of the underlying philosophy and expectations with respect to female entrepreneurship, the use of the socio-cultural heritage goes beyond a recognition of the economic and social merits of the creation of companies by women. Female entrepreneurship is a symbolic element of the mode of social (and ethical) development of the nation in the process of which it is expected that women play a central role.
  • At the same time, neo-liberal reforms lead to the rapid growth of necessity entrepreneurship. In Japan and in Korea, the permanent female labour market declined during the last decade for semi-qualified types of jobs but even (and importantly for the development of necessity entrepreneurship), for qualified routine types of occupations. The same tendency is observed in both services and manufacturing. Increase of the number of women in managerial positions goes hand in hand with a reduction in permanent jobs for the other employees.
  • In Malaysia and especially in Vietnam, there still exist too few work opportunities for most women. In this last country, the vast majority of them work in the informal labour market in small family-owned companies. The reforms of privatisation of agriculture with access to land ownership revolutionised the countryside and helped to make Vietnam an important exporter of agricultural products. However, they also reduced to poverty a high number of women who have lost the access to the land that they were cultivating traditionally without formal ownership rights.
  • In Japan and in Korea, the number of women having to assume alone their financial needs and also that of their family is fast increasing. The authorities see with a favourable eye the creation of companies by women in the cities and the countryside. The alternative of self-employment is financially interesting for the public authorities because it can make it possible to reduce the costs of public expenditure for certain services. Aging of the population is a burden for the budget and the involvement of the private sector as substitute to the state is a good thing in this respect.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Institutional evolution of female entrepreneurship
  • Policy Support to female Entrepreneurship
  • Importance of Employment issue in the Support Policy to Female Entrepreneurship
  • Importance of the regional Dimension
  • The societal Role of Female Entrepreneurship
  • The Current Situation of Female Entrepreneurship in economic Term
  • Conclusion
  • References
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