chapter  2
12 Pages

Structural Conditions: Women-Owned Businesses in the U.S.

Changes in the global and domestic economy over the last three decades facilitated the expansion of service industries, and created the conditions for a rapid increase in the small business sectors in the United States (Acs, 1998). Piore and Sabel (1984) argue that it was impossible for the U.S. economy to maintain stability in markets based on industrial mass production, so self-employment and entrepreneurship in service industries took on increasing importance in reorganizing employment during restructuring and downsizing. I Between 1990 and 1996, the number of corporations and partnerships increased from five million to seven million firms. The number of sole proprietorships increased from fifteen million to seventeen million firms. This is an increase of 3% annually.2 Small businesses account for 47% of all sales in the country, and roughly half the gross domestic product (SBA, 1996). From 1976 to 1990, small firms with less than 500 employees provided 53% of total employment and 65% of net new jobs. The political and sociological meanings that are attached to entrepreneurship and self-employment by government, associations and other interests such as corporations develop in the context of these historical changes and structural conditions.