Entrepreneurship and its meanings for low-income women in Aotearoa : a culture-centred approach : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Organisational Communication at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Meaningful work has been associated with positive large-scale outcomes such as life satisfaction and overall well-being, along with workplace-specific outcomes like job satisfaction and engagement. Despite growing interest in the field of organisational communication, few studies have examined the constructs of work meaning and meaningfulness in low-income settings. There are also relatively few studies in organisational communication focussed on the context of entrepreneurship. This research employs the culture-centred approach (CCA) metatheoretical framework with the specific aim of creating space for voices from impoverished, marginalised, and subaltern communities due to their erasure in post-colonial landscapes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-five women at various stages of their business to identify emergent needs, uncover work meanings, recognise wider influences on those meanings, and pinpoint if meaningful work could occur in impoverished contexts. Using grounded theory analysis, three interrelated meanings emerged for low-income women when thinking of their work: beneficent service, identity affirmation, and a sense of accomplishment with costs. The analysis also revealed how women’s experiences in organisational employment, contact with support workers, and wider societal discourses shaped the meaning(s) of their entrepreneurial work. This thesis draws from the CCA’s concepts of culture, structure, and agency in offering a theoretical model of transformative well-being for low-income entrepreneurs as well as practical implications for greater research impact.
organisational communication, meaning of work, meaningful work, entrepreneurship, gender, agency, poverty