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Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

An International Multi-Level Research Analysis

Edited by Kate Lewis, Colette Henry, Elizabeth J. Gatewood and John Watson

Women’s Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century is the fourth in the series of books emanating from the DIANA International Research Network. The volume takes a multi-dimensional approach to coalesce a series of chapters around the central theme: gender and entrepreneurship today and in the future. The chapters span a diverse range of countries, methodologies, and levels of analysis – however, they all seek to contribute to an advancing understanding of women and their engagement with entrepreneurial endeavours.

Chapter 7: A gender perspective on family business succession: case studies from France

Janice Byrne and Salma Fattoum

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, gender and management


In family business research, studies have shown that daughters are less likely to be chosen as successors (Ip and Jacobs, 2006; Martin, 2001; Dawley et al., 2004; Vera and Dean, 2005; Wang et al., 2008). More research on gender and succession is required (Martinez Jimenez, 2009; Wang, 2010; Constantinidis and Nelson, 2009) and different contextual settings may offer new insights. In this chapter, we further explore the role of gender in family business succession. We begin by reviewing the literature for explanations of women’s under-representation as successors in family business. We posit that extant research largely takes an essentialist viewpoint and explains gender imbalance either through individual characteristics of women and/or broader environmental factors which differentially impact men and women. We then document five case studies of family business succession in France. We examine whether the explanatory factors offered in the literature are reflected in our case studies. We show how a broader understanding of gender can lend a more nuanced view of family business succession.

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