Purpose - This paper aims to analyze how surviving norms from the Soviet time continue to shape women's entrepreneurship in contemporary Russia.
Design/methodology/approach - The empirical data are based on observations and qualitative interviews in two Russian regions in 2002-2014 and also to a part on a survey from one of the regions. The analytical framework is based on Douglass North's (1990) categorization of four main kinds of institutions which influence the way a society develops: legal rules, organization forms, enforcement and behavioural norms.
Findings - The analysis shows that it is important to incorporate norms connected to women's societal roles to the institutional theory. The survival of norms might in fact imply that women's entrepreneurship tends to conserve the ways the system works, rather than to contributing to changing it. Although the survival of such norms tends to prevent changes, the possibility to start private businesses, on the other hand, opened up new ways for women to fulfill their different societal responsibilities.
Originality/value - The paper is based on unique empirical data including some 200 interviews and observations from regular field trips to villages and small towns in Russia since the early 2000s.
2016. Vol. 10, no 1, 53-69 p.