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A ‘deviant men’ theory of business expectations in nascent entrepreneurs

Martiarena, Alona; Levie, Jonathan; Marlow, Susan; Hart, Mark; Bonner, Karen

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Alona Martiarena

Jonathan Levie

Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Mark Hart

Karen Bonner


In this article, we develop a gendered analysis of the expectations of venture growth by nascent entrepreneurs. Male entrepreneurs are notably overrepresented in the small cohort of firms that attain growth; to explore this phenomenon, we draw upon expectation theory during the nascency period to analyse the antecedents of growth outcomes. To refine this analysis, we factor in risk propensity, measuring the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on fundraising plans. Using UK data gathered between 2002 and 2020 from 5490 nascent entrepreneurs to test our hypotheses, we found that those with the greatest levels of start-up capital and high levels of risk tolerance had the highest expectations of growth and were likely to be male. This small cohort of growth-oriented entrepreneurs was termed ‘deviant men’ given their outlier status. Women became more cautious after the crisis, so even those with similar access to start-up capital as the deviant men had lower expectations of growth. We conclude by noting that at the nascency stage, expectations of growth are a critical influence upon future outcomes; a small cohort of deviant men has the highest expectations of growth, with women disadvantaged by gendered risk adversity.


Martiarena, A., Levie, J., Marlow, S., Hart, M., & Bonner, K. (2023). A ‘deviant men’ theory of business expectations in nascent entrepreneurs. Small Business Economics, 61(3), 909–930.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 1, 2022
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date Oct 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 2, 2023
Journal Small Business Economics
Print ISSN 0921-898X
Electronic ISSN 1573-0913
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 61
Issue 3
Pages 909–930
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; General Business, Management and Accounting
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:


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