Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Library & Information Science

Supervisor

Dr. Catherine A. Johnson

Abstract

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the information seeking behaviour of Zambian women entrepreneurs, specifically focusing on their information needs, information sources, barriers to information access, and usage of information and communication technologies (ICTs). For conceptual framework, the social network approach, Chatman’s Information Poverty theory, and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) were used to examine and understand the various characteristics of Zambian women entrepreneurs’ information seeking behaviour. In order to achieve the objectives of the study, five key questions were asked on the women’s information needs, information sources, barriers to information access, women’s level of knowledge and skills in the use of technology, and on women’s social network networks. The research involved two data collection techniques: 1) a questionnaire which was administered to 300 women business owners; and 2) qualitative inquiry consisting of in-depth interviews with 25 participants who had also completed the questionnaire. The questionnaire made it possible to collect data on various thematic areas of the study. The findings of the study show that most Zambian women business owners need information on market opportunities, information on sources of raw materials, funding sources, and information on government programs. The results of the study also show that family, friends, and acquaintances are some of women’s major sources of information. Others are tradeshows, internet, workshops and seminars. Other findings of the study indicate that the level of knowledge and use of information and communication technologies among Zambian women entrepreneurs is very low. The majority of them lack computer skills and have limited knowledge of computer applications. Results of the study also reveal that women entrepreneurs face numerous barriers to information access. Some of the barriers cited are lack of financial resources, high cost of ICTs, poor networks, non-availability of current information, poor government policies, and lack of information skills among women business owners. The study recommends that the Zambian government, the private sector and other stakeholders take measures to provide entrepreneurial support to Zambian women business owners, especially as would improve their business environment for entrepreneurial success and for the economic development of the country.


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