An organisational study of the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce (TWCC) revolving around women business owners and institutional change

Start date: 2 January, 2016 End date: 3 February, 2016 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A29204 Countries: Tanzania Institutions: Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark Grant recipient: Josefine Bank Johansen Total grant: 20,000 DKK



Background: In Tanzania, women business owners are seen as important contributors to economic development. However, the women experience many challenges such as harassment and lack of business skills, and as a consequence they cannot grow their business and are left to do petty trading. In Tanzania, international donors have begun to focus on the importance of women’s business associations, as a way help women business owners, and they have found the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce (TWCC) of particular importance.

Purpose: The purpose of the study is to explore how TWCC plays a role, through institutional entrepreneurship, in changing the gendered institutions of women business owners in Tanzania.  The study takes a pragmatic approach and focuses on the process of learning whereby the study aims to be useful for both academia, international donors in Tanzania and TWCC.

Methods: As the role of TWCC and women’s business associations is an unexplored topic, I conduct an explorative organisational study of TWCC. The predominant empirical data consists of qualitative interviews, reports and official documents that were mainly collected during a field study to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Theory: To guide the research, the study will utilise institutional entrepreneurship complemented by a perspective on business associations and new institutionalism. Transcending the study is a feminist approach to recognise how agency and structures are gendered.

Findings: The findings show how TWCC through institutional entrepreneurship divergently change the cultural-cognitive institutions and partly the normative institutions of women business owners by its training and networking activities and its formal representation of women business owners. It is becoming more appropriate for women to own a business and women perceive themselves as self-confident, having business skills, and aware of regulation and rights. TWCC’s role in the regulatory institutions is limited to very weak advocacy activities and there are still several regulatory issues to be resolved.

Conclusions: The study indicates that TWCC acts as an institutional entrepreneur in the cultural-cognitive and normative institutions where it is in a process of changing the gendered institutions of women business owners. It suggests that TWCC does this in a strategic way through its vision and mobilisation of resources based on its societal, organisational and individual conditions that constrain and enable its institutional entrepreneurship.