Copreneurship in Rural Tourism Exploring Women's Experiences
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This study investigates copreneurship in rural tourism businesses. It explores the experiences of owners of rural tourism accommodation businesses in New Zealand within the framework of copreneurship. It also examines roles within copreneurial rural tourism businesses and studies women’s experiences of entrepreneurship specifically. Copreneurs are couples who share ownership, commitment and responsibility for a business together (Barnett and Barnett, 1989) and these couples in business together (copreneurs) are one form of family business. To date there has not been any published discussion of the concept of copreneurship and tourism, which is remarkable, given that many tourism businesses are SMEs built around lifestyle and integration of life stakeholders such as family and partners. This dissertation represents the first attempt to study copreneurship within tourism entrepreneurship, and within a rural tourism environment specifically. It uses an interpretive approach as part of the study to give the participants a voice and to stress the methodological importance of reflexivity where the researcher is an insider to the study. Triangulation of data sources and methods, combining qualitative and quantitative techniques enables a rich understanding of copreneurial expectations, roles and responsibilities and of women’s experiences specifically. The method of the research is a postal survey of rural tourism accommodation business owners complemented by in-depth interviews with women in copreneurial business relationships. This thesis concludes that the rural tourism accommodation sector in New Zealand is characterised by lifestylers and copreneurs running their businesses as a ‘hobby’, with the main aim being ‘to meet people’ and that non-economic, lifestyle motivations are important stimuli to business formation. Specific analysis of women’s experiences of tourism production in copreneurial situations has shown that any perception of copreneurship as a tool for enabling women to become freed from traditional gender roles may not equal the reality. Women’s voices were able to come through in both the survey and the interview part of this research, revealing that a gendered ideology persists even through copreneurial relationships in rural tourism. The copreneurs in this study have strong and widely shared preconceptions of their roles as accommodation providers and as task managers in their households; role perceptions which appear to be largely invariant of the situation. Copreneurial couples appear to engage in running the accommodation business using traditional gender-based roles mirroring those found in the private home.