Date of Award

Spring 4-17-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Dr. Denish Shah

Second Advisor

Dr. Likobe M. Maruping

Third Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Mattis


What drives entrepreneurs to persevere? Particularly, what drives women entrepreneurs to endure given they are faced with sexism, discrimination, and racism? What do they attribute their success to? What sustains them and motivates them to continue to maintain their businesses? Why established women entrepreneurs (EWEs) remain business owners is an under-researched phenomenon. This study aimed to examine the role of spirituality in the success of EBEs. Studies have been dedicated to nascent entrepreneurs as it relates to why many of them begin the journey, but why they remain entrepreneurs is not completely clear. It has been shown that women are consistently discriminated against and frequently experience overt oppression. Not only are women discriminated against personally, but they experience this professionally as well, which can compound the entrepreneurial challenges. This study provides unique insight into the role of spirituality in EWEs.

A qualitative narrative research design was used to interpret and analyze 40 interviews from EWEs with three or more years in business or $1 million in annual revenue who, collectively, have experienced the challenges of entrepreneurship. I leveraged Weiner’s attribution theory as an underpinning framework to identify some of the critical success factors for women entrepreneurs. The theory used in the entrepreneurial phenomena proved very rigid with the internal vs. external binary when spirituality is introduced into the causal equation. I recommended an extension to the theory to accommodate both internal and external causes for entrepreneurial success.

I uncovered six themes that helped answer why EWEs consider themselves successful: the EWEs attribute their success to their desire for achievement, their quest for purposeful work, their acknowledgement that with their choice of entrepreneurship, they will encounter necessary obstacles (some races more than others), their high self-efficacy, their commitment to spirituality and their understanding they will be tempted to quit, but they must remain resilient and not burnout in order to continue to thrive as a woman entrepreneur. This study offers insight into how these EWEs perceived their success as entrepreneurs and how spirituality was instrumental in helping them remain resilient and successful.


File Upload Confirmation