The Shift Towards a Digital Business Model: A Strategic Decision for the Female Entrepreneur

The Shift Towards a Digital Business Model: A Strategic Decision for the Female Entrepreneur

Veronica Scuotto (Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci, France), Francesca Serravalle (University of Turin, Italy), Alan Murray (University of the West of Scotland, UK) and Milena Viassone (University of Turin, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7479-8.ch007
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The chapter aims to offer a comprehensive overview of the shift towards a digital business model for the female and male entrepreneur. This shift is analyzed by a ground test theory based on a comparative case study. Two case studies, categorized as small to medium enterprises operating in the creative industry in the city of Turin, Italy, are analyzed against the six dimensions of the business model framework—value proposition, target market, value chain, revenue mechanism, value network, and competitive strategy—and then used as a basis to compare a female and a male digital entrepreneur. As emerged, there is not a remarkable difference between the two entrepreneurs. Both stress the relevance of the digital approach in the aforementioned six dimensions of the digital business model, highlighting the relevance of the “value network” to improve employees' working experience and customers' experience.
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The number of women in board chair posts in European companies is still low (around 7 percent) although there is growing support from the European Commission to improve gender equality in workplaces (Jourova, 2016). This is encouraging more women around the world to set up and run their own business. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2016) estimated there are around 163 million women entrepreneurs. This has resulted in a huge, positive impact not only for the economy but also for the growth and well-being of local, national and international communities.

According to Nicolas and Rubio (2016), women are more prone to pursue social values in business than men. Harding and Cowling (2006) and Leahy and Villeneuve-Smith (2009) also noted that women tend to develop a business with the scope to help their community rather than to solely make money. Additionally, woman entrepreneurs are more innovation-driven than men across the world (GEM, 2016).

This may be the result of the current digital revolution which seems to bring lower barriers to entry, reduce offline inequality between women and men, and disembody entrepreneurial individuals (Dy, Marlow, & Martin, 2017). Furthermore, the digital revolution has enhanced entrepreneurial opportunities based on the adoption of digital media and information and communication technologies (ICTs) (Davidson & Vaast, 2010; Castells, 2010; Mole & Mole, 2010). This revolution, thus, stimulates digital entrepreneurship which is considered a more meritocratic place where any individual can run a business with only a laptop, a measure of creativity and a product/service to offer (LeBlanc, 2015).

Despite this, woman entrepreneurs are still treated differently to their male counterparts and as the online space is integrated with offline space and so the gender inequality persists (Sassen, 2002; Wajcman, 2010; Daniels, 2009, 2012; Marwick, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digitalization: The adoption of digital technologies to modify a business model. The aim is to create a value from the use of new, advanced technologies by exploiting digital network dynamics and the giant digital flow of information.

Case Study: A case study methodology allows a researcher to respond to how and why questions about a contemporary set of events and theory building. This method involves an in-depth and detailed analysis of a single or multiple subjects (or cases) in a specific context.

Digital Orientation: A business more oriented to the digital business market by employing advanced technologies as social networks, mobile applications, and digitized processes, among other. It offers new revenue and value creation and induces a business to move towards the digital market.

Digital Business Model: The development of business based on the six dimensions of the business model framework: value proposition, target market, value chain, revenue mechanism, value network, and competitive strategy, which involves the digital embeddedness within an enterprise and the involvement of the external digital network.

SME (or Small to Medium Enterprises): It is a business form, which is characterized by a number of employees not exceeding 250 individuals and a turnover not above 50 million euro.

Female Digital Entrepreneur: A female entrepreneur who explores market opportunity exploiting the digital space to create something new. Digital entrepreneurship merges technology with entrepreneurial talent and skills applying traditional entrepreneurship approaches such as opportunity spotting, resource gathering, and talent and cash management whilst leveraging digital technologies to increase the rate of creativity and innovation.

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