A Positive Deviance Inquiry on Effective Communicative Practices of Rural Indian Women Entrepreneurs
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Development Communication. 2019, 30 (1), 10-22.
Why do some rural women entrepreneurs in India succeed despite low levels of literacy, staggering household responsibility, unsupportive social structures, and oppressive cultural practices? The present article employed the Positive Deviance (PD) approach to identify the effective communication practices of rural women entrepreneurs in Uttar Pradesh, India, who succeed against overwhelming odds. Starting with an initial pool of 21,024 rural Indian women who received microloans for income-generation, and through several sieving rounds of focus group conversations with over 1,100 women, 24 PD women entrepreneurs were identified. A variety of participatory processes and liberating structures—Discovery and Action Dialogues (DADs), improvisational theater and prototyping, personal storytelling, and card-sorting games—were employed to identify the highly uncommon practices of PD entrepreneurs. These uncommon practices included micro interpersonal behaviours to connect deeply with customers, personalised branding of their businesses, daily diary jottings to monitor sales and profits, reframing value propositions to persuade customers, and others.