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Demographic correlates of locus of control and perceived ladder of success: a study on women entrepreneurs.


The study examined some important demographic correlates such as, age, education, social category, year of experience, husband's and parents' education, previous occupation, and present occupation, family's income, membership in associations and training of locus of control of 32 women entrepreneurs in two metro cities in India. Locus of Control Scale (Rao, 1985), self-constructed scale to measure perceptions of present ladder of success and success rate were used for the present study. Results on Pearson's correlations revealed that a majority of women entrepreneurs had internal perceptions about taking up a challenging task and success in it. Only age had significant and positive correlation with locus of control. Perceptions of ladder of success at present had significant inverse correlations with father's previous and present occupation and significant positive correlations with success rate perceived by women entrepreneurs.


Locus of Control (Rotter, 1966) is treated as an enduring individual characteristics. People with internal locus of control believe that they themselves are primarily responsible for what happens to them and people with external locus of control believe that major events in their lives are mainly determined by other people or forces beyond themselves. Their beliefs are assumed to be stable over time and situations and can affect strain and stress relationship. Some studies, (Halpin, Harris & Halpin, 1985; Lester, 1982; Reiche & May, 1986; Storms & Spector, 1987; Vredenburgh & Trinkaus, 1983) have shown main effects of locus of control involving such stresses as role conflict, role ambiguity and overload, which can alternatively affect one's performance or success in life particularly, of women's. The concept of internality or externality orientation of control is both a property of the person and situation, hence, success of any product can be affected by this. Locus of control is a learned behaviour and behaviour is shaped through the socialization process and family background. Locus of control of women in developing countries, like India, could affect their performance accordingly. Many studies have shown relationship between locus of control and performance is agro-businesses (Box, White & Barr, 1993; Govindarajan, 1988; Miller & Toulouse, 1986; Miller, Kets & Toulouse, 1982). Box, Beisel and Watts (1995) reported that successful entrepreneurs tend to be internal and have high for achievement. It was found that entrepreneurs having previous experience were more satisfied and successful than those who did not have. Similar findings reported by Hisrich & Peters (2000) and Box, White and Barr (1993) indicated the impact of experience in this field on performance. In addition, age and level of education also correlated (Birley & Norburn, 1987; and Hisrich & Brush, 1984), with performance in the enterprise. However, hardly any study is reported in India showing relationship between background variables and locus of control particularly, in women entrepreneurs.

Thus, studies varied from perspective to perspective but gave a global picture of the positive impact of background and locus of control on entrepreneurial performance. However, keeping inequalities in socialization process, sex-role stereotypes and distribution of societal resources on the basis of gender, very few researchers focus on women entrepreneurs. Most of the research on women entrepreneurs have focused on demographic, family, occupational and educational backgrounds as well as any differences between male and female entrepreneurs. Especially when we take age, education and community into account according to Indian context different researchers have reported differently, Generally male entrepreneurs tend to start their significant venture in the early 30s, while women entrepreneurs tend to do so in their middle 30s (Ronstadt, 1983)

The typical woman entrepreneur is the first born; from a middle or upper class family; has a self-employed father' has a college degree; is married with children; starts their significant entrepreneurial career between the ages of 40-45; has previous experience in the venture; and independence, achievement and job satisfaction are the strongest motivations to starting their own business (Hisrich and Brush, 1985).

Rani (1986), found in her study that most of the women entrepreneurs were in the age group of 21-30 years, have come from middle class families and belonged to nuclear families (76.7%) as against only 23.3 percent from joint families. She went on further; saying that majority of the respondents thought of taking up entrepreneurship on their own and was not influenced by others.

Anna (1990) in his study found that majority of women entrepreneurs entered the business in the age-group 30-40, at a time when they had attained self-confidence and decision making capacity, majority hailed from lower and middle income groups. He stressed that low level of education did not inhibit entrepreneurs from entering into trade.

Nigam (1995) in her study reported that a good many women entrepreneurs were in the age-group of 31-40 years (42.5%) and a majority were married (79.5%), were drawn from nuclear families (60.3%), belonged to middle and upper middle class (86.3%), lived in big cities (70%), were graduates (50.7%), 'often' took the risk in making decisions (63%) perceived their enterprise as fairly successful (57.5%), did not receiving any training (59.0%), went for face to face communication (82.1%) or used magazines, circulars and newspapers in the mass media and communication and also indicated that the biggest problems during 'starting-up' were lack of business training and obtaining lines of credit.

Rani (1986) reported that majority of women entrepreneurs were in the age group of 21-30 years. In contrast, Anna (1990), found that the age group to be between 30-40 years, which was again supported by Nigam (1995), but it was contradicted with the study by Hisrich and Brush (1986) found in their study on women entrepreneurs that the age-groups 40-45 years for right for start-up which contradicts with the study by Rani (1986) and Anna (1990) and Nigam (1995). In our study majority of the women entrepreneurs lie in the age group of 30-50 years.

Entrepreneurs generally hail from communities, which have been traditionally practicing entrepreneurial activities thus imbibing the entrepreneurial qualities (Anna, 1990). Caste is one of the important factors, which helps the emergence, and growth of entrepreneurs (Manimekalai, 1998).

Chandra (1991) revealed in her study that majority of women entrepreneurs belonged to the educated class. Azad (1989) found that conflict or the difficulty in managing both the home and the job as experienced by married women, has a negative influence over Indian women entrepreneurs. Singh and Singh & Singh (1992) found that the problems and difficulties of working women are multi-dimensional i.e., environmental, social and psychological and emerge under two situations--home and work. While, women entrepreneurs are still very small part of all entrepreneurial activity, their absolute member is substantial and increasing in all enterprising areas in India. Very few studies have been done on women entrepreneurs and no studies focused on the relationship exists between women entrepreneurs and locus of control, their locus of control and perception of success in entrepreneurs and how the demographic variables are related to their of locus of control and success in their ventures. The present study tried to find out all these queries in Indian food processing enterprises, as they not only accelerate the pace of any rural industrialization and economic growth, also uplift women's role and status in society. This study aimed to find out locus of control orientation of women entrepreneurs and addressed the issues related to the relationship among their background, locus of control orientation and perception of success they have achieved so far.



Thirty-two (32) women entrepreneurs were selected randomly from two metro cities (16 each, Bangalore and Chennai) in India. The women were between 30-60 years of age and a majority of them were graduates. All were married.

Variables and Tools

Locus of control (LOC): Locus of Control scale by (Rao, 1985), consisting of 20 statements was used. High score (greater than 3.0) indicated that entrepreneurs are more inclined towards internality. Low score (less than 1.0) indicated that entrepreneurs are more inclined towards externality and medium score (1.0-3.0) indicates that entrepreneurs tend towards internality (i.e., they will be internal with time).

Ladder of Success (LASP) and Success Rate (SR): 'Ladder of success at present' and 'Success rate' questionnaires were developed to measure perceptions of success rate of women entrepreneur. The ladder of success at present scale consisted of ten steps in which the entrepreneur rated herself in steps they are currently operating with respect to their enterprise, likewise the success rate was ranged between 10 percent to 100 percent.

Demographic Variables

A personal proforma including Age(A), Education(E), Category(C), Self Previous occupation(O), Year of experience(Y), Husband's Education(HE), Training received(ETTT), Parents occupation(Father's Previous and Present Occupation(FOPV) and (FOPR) and Mother's Previous and Present Occupation(MOPV) and (MOPR), Husband's Previous and Present Occupation(HOPV) and (HOPR), Family Income(FI) and Membership Associated(MA) was prepared to collect demographic information.


The objective of this study is to find out the correlation between the demographic and psychosocial variables.


The assumption behind it was as social learning, maturity and problem solving skills are enhanced with age and person's (women entrepreneur's) experience in her life, self-belief and one's own conviction about her own control over the event also increase due to this fact. Therefore, person's perception about attributions could also change with time.

[H.sub.1]: Locus of control (LOC), ladder of success at present (LASP)
and success rate (SR) would be significantly correlated with background

[H.sub.2]: Perceptions of ladder of success at present (LASP) and
success rate (SR) would be significantly related with each other.


As all the measures were of self-reported type, questionnaires were administered to all agreed entrepreneurs. Initially, about 80 women entrepreneurs were contacted among whom only 32 entrepreneurs agreed to participate in the study. Measuring tools along with the instructions were administered individually in the enterprise setting only. Statistical analyses were done by using Mean, Standard Deviation and Pearson's Correlation coefficients.


It was revealed from table-14, that locus of control had significant positive correlation(r = .37, p<.05) with age only, which indicated that older women entrepreneurs had more internal perceptions of locus of control. As locus of control was shaped through learning and one's experience of perceptions of success or failure and her attitude to attribute it to external and internal factors, those who were older in age due to their experience in this line they developed external orientation towards their success or failure. It was found from the percentage table (Table-1) that more than 50% of women were between the age of 30-40 years and the next largest group constituted 38% was between 40-50 years of age. 97% of the total women were found to have a tendency towards increasing internal locus of control perceptions.

This indicated that with increasing age, hence, more number of years in a particular line enhanced internal orientation in perceptions and thus, fostered their actual rate of success. This was substantiated by the result which revealed significant positive correlation (r = .42, p<0.5) between locus of control and perceptions of success rate

(Table-11). 60.5% of women entrepreneurs rated their success rate or growth rate over the years in this industry as 60%, which can be considered as more than average growth in the enterprise. This finding was partially in support of the studies done by Box, Beisel and Watts (1995) reporting successful entrepreneurs tend to be internal and have high for achievement and by Hisrich & Peters (2000) and Box, White and Barr (1993), who found that entrepreneurs having previous experience were more satisfied and successful than those who did not have. In addition, this was in line of the studies finding age and level of education correlating (Birley & Norburn, 1987; and Hisrich & Brush, 1984) positively with performance in the enterprise. However, locus of control did not correlate significantly with any other demographic variable. It could be due to the small size of the sample or as the total sample were from south Indian region they constituted more or less a homogenous group (socially and culturally), hence their control perceptions remained more or less equal.

Women's perceptions about their present ladder of success correlated significantly and inversely with fathers previous (r= -.45, p<.05) and present (r= -.37, p<.05) occupation. This indicated that women whose fathers did not have better occupations perceived themselves more successful in their enterprises. From percentage analyses (Table-12) it was found out that 59.59% of fathers were government salary class people and 71.87% were presently not in any occupation. Again it was found out that (Table-10) 56.25% of these women entrepreneurs perceived themselves in the fifth and 18.75% in the sixth ladder of success in a scale of 10. This showed that their perceptions and expectations of self-growth in this line was quite encouraging for others want to pursue this as a career. This finding could be attributed to the fact that perceptions about oneself takes shape into a positive whole on the basis of social comparison (Festinger, 1954), basically in a close social circle like family, relatives and friends. When these women entrepreneurs compared their performance including earning, social status, reputation, etc with their elders they found themselves in a better position in each sphere, which affected their perceptions of success or failure, hence, they perceived themselves as more successful.

Another plausible explanation could be that in families where parents were from middle socio-economic status, gender inequality could be more prevalent. Fathers are typically unsupportive whereas mothers were devoted to and mostly relied on the son, which could have deeply influenced women's personality. This could have made them more interested in achievement, independent, autonomous and self-reliant, hence, perceived themselves as more successful. In line of the above result, expectedly those who perceived themselves are more successful and they also ranked more to the percentage scale of growth of their enterprises.

According to Timmons (1978), the entrepreneur does not believe in success or failure of a new business venture depends mostly upon luck or fate, or other external, personality uncontrollable factors. Rather, the entrepreneur tends to believe that one's personal accomplishments as well as setbacks lie within one's personal control and influence. This sense of personal causation as the determinant of success or failure is linked to the entrepreneur's achievement motivation and preference for moderate risk-taking. Several researches have reported to a positive correlation between one's entrepreneurial activity and the entrepreneur's belief that the locus of control over these entrepreneurial events is internal rather than external and just a matter of luck or circumstances. This has been found from the table-14 that success rate has been positively correlated with locus of control.

Nonetheless, in this study, there were many correlations found to be insignificant despite the fact that they were approaching towards the level of significance could be due to the small size of the sample or as the total sample were from south India they constituted more or less a homogenous group (socially and culturally), hence the variations were statistically not significant. Again not using a more comprehensive tool to collect socio-economic data could also be another reason for these results.


The following conclusions were drawn from the study:
* Age had significant positive correlation with locus of control
(LOC) And locus of control had positive correlation with the success
 rate (SR).

* Father's previous and present occupation and perceptions of ladder
of success at present (LASP) were inversely correlated.

* Perceptions of ladder of success and success rate in percentage were
positively correlated.

This study achieved its initial purpose of beginning to understand Indian women entrepreneurs, the relationship between their psychological profiles, their perceptions and performance. This demanded more researches to be done in this line in developing countries to widen the generalizability of the findings. Future research could be done, wherein a larger sample of female entrepreneurs from different parts of the country (with cultural variations) should be included. A longitudinal study could also show the impact of age on locus of control perceptions (LOC) and ladder of success at present (LASP).


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R. Ganesan, Indian Institute of Technology

Dilbagh Kaur, Indian Institute of Technology

R.C. Maheshwari, Indian Institute of Technology

Sujata Satapathy, Indian Institute of Technology
Table--1: Distribution of Respondents according to Age (n = 32)

 Age Group in Years (A) Percentage

 30 and Below 1
 31-40 17
 41-50 12
 51-60 2

Table--2: Distribution of Respondents according Social Category
(N = 32)

 Category(C) Percentage

 General 25

 Other Backward Class 7

Table--3: Distribution of Respondents according to Education
(N = 32)

 Educational Level (E) Percentage

 Primary 1
 Secondary --
 Higher Secondary 6
 Graduate 23
 Post Graduate 1
 Others/Technical 1

Table--4: Distribution of Respondents according to Experience
(N = 32)

 Years of Experience (Y) Percentage

 2-4 16
 5-7 12
 8-10 1
 11-13 1
 14- 16 1
 16 and Above 1

Table--5: Distribution of Husbands' Education (N = 32)

 Educational Level (HE) Percentage

 Primary 1
 Secondary 0
 Higher Secondary 6
 Graduate 23
 Post Graduate 1
 Others /Technical Degree 1

Table--6: Distribution of Respondents according to Family Income
(N = 32)

Family Income (FI)in Rs. Percentage

 < 3500 3
 3501-5500 25
 5501-7500 0
 7501-9500 2
 9501-11500 2

Table--7: Distribution of Respondents according to Membership in
Associations (N = 32)

 Membership in Associations(MA) Percentage

 One 10
 Two 8
 Three 8
 Four 2
 Five 4

Table--8: Distribution of Respondents according to Training (N = 32)

 Training (ETT) Percentage

 Yes 26
 No 6

Table--9: Distribution of Respondents according to Locus of Control
(N = 32)

Locus of Control(LOC) Percentage

 < 1.0 1
 1.0-3.0 31
 > 3.0 0

Table 10: Distribution of Respondents according to Ladder of Success
at present (N = 32)

 Ladder of Success (LASP) Percentage

 One 0.00%
 Two 1
 Three 0.00%
 Four 4
 Five 18

 Ladder of Success (LASP) Percentage

 Six 6
 Seven 3
 Eight/ Nine/ Ten 0

Table - 11: Distribution of Respondents according to perceived
Success Rate at present (N = 32)

 Success Rate (SR) Percentage

 Ten/ Twenty/ Thirty/ Forty 0
 Fifty 2
 Sixty 20
 Seventy 9
 Eighty 1
 Ninety/ Hundred 0

Table--12: Distribution of Respondents According to Occupational
Background (n = 32)

Occupation Self Father's Father's Husband's
 Previous Previous Present Previous

Agriculture 0 2 1 0
 0.00% 6.25% 3.13% 0.00%
Business 1 6 7 5
 3.13% 18.75% 21.87% 15.63%
Service 0 5 0 1
 0.00% 15.63% 0.00% 3.13%
Salaried 23 0 0 9
Private 71.87% 0.00% 0.00% 28.13%
Salaried 0 19 1 17
Government 0.00% 59.39% 3.13% 53.13%
No 8 0 23 0
Occupation 25.00% 0.00% 71.87% 0.00%

Occupation Husband's Mother's Mother's
 Present Previous Present

Agriculture 0 0 0
 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Business 5 0 0
 15.63% 0.00% 0.00%
Service 1 0 0
 3.13% 0.00% 0.00%
Salaried 9 0 0
Private 28.13% 0.00% 0.00%
Salaried 17 3 1
Government 53.13% 9.37% 3.13%
No 0 29 31
Occupation 0.00% 90.63% 96.87%

Table--13: Mean and Standard Deviation on measured variables
(n = 32)

Dependent Variables Mean Deviation

Locus of Control (LOC) 1.87 .4762
Ladder of Success Present(LASP) 5.16 .9873
Success Rate(SR) 62.5 6.2217

Table--14: Correlations between demographic and measured variables


LOC 0.37 * 0.08 -0.16 -0.17 0.06 0.06
LASP 0.18 0.03 0.07 0.26 0.19 -0.05
SR 0.1 0.19 -0.1 0.13 0.24 -0.04


LOC .32 -0.04 -0.09 0.07 0.19 -0.19
LASP .34 -0.45 * -0.37 * 0.05 0.03 -0.16
SR .07 -0.11 -0.03 -0.04 0.07 -0.01


LOC -0.18 -0.12 -0.04 .01 .42 *
LASP -0.164 .27 .43 * 1.0 -.62 **
SR -0.01 .12 .275 .62 ** 1.0
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Title Annotation:MANUSCRIPTS
Author:Ganesan, R.; Kaur, Dilbagh; Maheshwari, R.C.; Satapathy, Sujata
Publication:International Journal of Entrepreneurship
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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