Using a multiple method and mixed mode approach to examine women entrepreneur negotiating styles

Ethné Swartz, Frances M. Amatucci, Susan Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this study is to explore an optimal research design for research on women entrepreneurs involved in negotiating term sheets for private equity capital. This research explores new ways for researchers to connect with such current “invisibles” through the use of a mixed method and mixed mode research design to expand sampling options and secure respondent participation. The authors discuss existing data sets that have been used as secondary sources for data on financing of companies and consider their inadequacy for research questions about process issues in negotiation. The authors present process-related findings regarding the efficacy of the research design. Design/methodology/approach – This paper reviews research on research methodology, incorporating a discussion of practices outside of the entrepreneurship discipline to discover effective practices for identifying respondents and data not currently captured in entrepreneurship data sources. The respondents were found through social media sites, angel networks, University networks and via identification through a proprietary financial intelligence database. Findings – An optimal research design to identify women business owners of growth-oriented firms who have negotiated private equity should consider mixed methods designs and mixed modes, including the use of digital networks that signal to potential respondents that research is being done. Research limitations/implications – Although the authors developed the multi-method, mixed mode (MMMM) research design, the sample size is still relatively small. This raises concerns about generalizability to the larger population and limits statistical analysis more suitable with larger data sets. However, the MMMM research design has enabled the authors to reach a difficult target sample. It has proven effective, although a longer time frame would have been helpful. Research limitations/implications – All of the large scale databases in entrepreneurship have limitations in providing optimal sampling frames for process-related research. The present research study was able to use conventional networks, social media sites and angel networks to connect with women business owners who have raised private equity, but who lack visibility in current data sets. The study shows that through the use of multiple methods, women entrepreneurs can be researched and some will share their experiences about process issues. The sample size was small and the quantitative data cannot be generalized. However, the methodology works and allows researchers to explore experiences that are not captured in existing data sets. Social implications – Entrepreneurship researchers can connect with “invisibles” by becoming more “social” and using social media sites that are used by women entrepreneurs. Researchers may not have immediate access to women entrepreneurs through these means, but rather they need to develop interpersonal contacts, build a social presence and trust to recruit respondents to complete online questionnaire studies about substantive topics such as negotiating term sheets for equity investments in their companies. Originality/value – This paper summarizes the “research on research methodologies” in entrepreneurship, reviews secondary data sources and discusses their limitations for specific types of research questions. A review of the value of MMMM research designs and best practices in online survey research outside of entrepreneurship provides insights into the incorporation of digital tools in other disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-68
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2016


  • Methodology
  • Mixed mode
  • Multiple method
  • Networking
  • Strategy
  • Term sheet negotiation
  • Women’s entrepreneurship


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