Technological Engagement of Women Entrepreneurs on Online Digital Platforms: Evidence from the Apple iOS App Store
By prof. Hye Young Kang
Division of International Studies
Prof. Hye Young Kang’s work titled "Technological Engagement of Women Entrepreneurs on Online Digital Platforms: Evidence from the Apple iOS App Store" was recently published at Technovation (2021 Journal Impact Factor = 11.373, JIF Rank = 1/87 in Operations Research & Management Science). The article explores the research question of how women entrepreneurs engage with technologies on digital platforms.
Digital platforms have grown rapidly, serving as a birthplace for entrepreneurship. Women entrepreneurs have increasingly joined digital platforms as complementors who provide products and services to the platform, especially as digital platforms present low technological barriers to entry. However, surprisingly, little is known about how women entrepreneurs engage with technologies within the context of digital platforms. Digital platforms present the distinctive product, structural, and technological characteristics from those of traditional markets, and demand a significant departure from the operating procedures in traditional markets. Historically, women have experienced gender bias in technology domains, but the unique characteristics of digital platforms set the expectation that gender disparities can be mitigated to some extent within an online digital platform. However, we do not know if this is the case. There has been little empirical evidence on whether and how female entrepreneurs benefit from digital platforms and whether they leverage digital technologies as extensively as their male counterparts within platforms.
Prof. Kang’s study addresses this gap in the extant research by examining women complementors’ technological engagement on digital platforms. The empirical setting of the study is the U.S. Apple iOS App Store. Prof. Kang, by constructing a novel dataset covering the health and fitness mobile app ecosystem, conducted panel data regressions. In order to complement regression findings and to elucidate the conceptual mechanisms that drive her arguments, she also undertook the qualitative examination, such as by deeply delving into leading online forums to analyze the key theme on the topic and conducting an in-depth text analysis. She examined these threads in-detail to corroborate her theoretical arguments and to provide insights into the results of the panel data analysis. This approach helped her to undertake an integrated analysis that combines objective evidence based on numbers and subjective evidence based on narratives to unravel an empirical phenomenon of interest.
Her study offers more nuanced understanding of online digital platforms by identifying the conditions under which technological engagement of women entrepreneurs falls behind that of male counterparts on online digital platforms. First, female complementors are found to equal their male counterparts in technological engagement in domains, where success can be achieved with platform-wide offerings. However, female complementors underperform in domains that require advanced technological skills, which are not widely accessible on the platform. The study also finds that this gender gap is highly related to the offline environments, in which women complementors are closely embedded.
The findings of this study, by integrating two important strands of literature in management, namely studies of the gender gap in technology and research on platform, offer an important managerial lesson to women complementors—who tend to have limited access to channels for enhancing their technological knowledge—about the likelihood that online digital platforms are not panaceas. Women complementors should seek out the ways to sharpen their technological expertise beyond a given set of platform environments. A possible solution suggested by this study is to leverage offline, local environments in which women complementors are embedded. Considering the possibility that offline and online spaces are not fully detachable, heterogeneous local conditions surrounding women complementors can affect their behavior and engagement differently in a digital space to a large extent. Female entrepreneurs, who are often constrained by scarce resources, may be tempted to enter online digital platforms with a high expectation that platform-wide offerings can address their needs. However, this study also provides an important implication in that digital platforms do not serve as a cure-for-all; instead, women entrepreneurs should acknowledge the fierce market competition resulting from low barriers to entry, and the importance of increasing their competitive capabilities to win this hyper-competitive market. This paper carefully reveals that platform-wide offerings alone are insufficient to allow complementors to triumph in a digital platform marketplace.
In terms of theoretical contribution, this paper contributes to the research on online digital platforms. An emerging body of scholars has examined within-platform dynamics, focusing on the providers of complementary products and services. This study furthers this research by integrating the gender perspectives into platform literature, the two of which have been little cross-fertilized previously. This approach offers new insights for unpacking the inner workings of digital platform ecosystems. In addition, this study enhances the literature concerning women's digital entrepreneurship, complementing the extant studies by examining an increasingly important yet underexplored topic, the technological engagement of women entrepreneurs on online digital platforms.
Overall, responding to the demand for further scholarly attention to gender gaps in digital entrepreneurship, Prof. Kang’s study investigates gendered effects on technological engagement within an online digital platform, which have started to significantly transform entrepreneurial environments. Recognizing the increasing significance of platform ecosystems in the digital economy, this paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of digital platform ecosystems.
* Related Article
Hye Young Kang, Technological engagement of women entrepreneurs on online digital platforms: Evidence from the Apple iOS App Store, Technovation, Volume 114, June 2022, 102522