Family firms have long been important cogs in the engine room of private enterprise economies. Their stability and continuity, coupled with their innovation and rapid decision making, have provided reassurance for those seeking sustained growth and development of regional and national economies. Two features of family firms, which have recently received increased attention, can help us understand their economic contribution. First, researchers, advisers and policy makers have sought to understand entrepreneurship as practised by families in business. Second, they have tried to come to grips with the leadership roles women play in these firms. This book presents the results of research directed primarily at the second area, but it also offers some insight into the first. How do the experiences of women family business leaders help us better understand leadership and entrepreneurship generally? How do they contribute to knowledge of how family businesses function? RESEARCH GAPS A great deal is still not fully appreciated about leadership and entrepreneurship, especially how they play out in a family business context. This section surveys some of the gaps in our knowledge, and discusses how knowing more about women’s experience might help fill them. Leadership in a Family Business Context Our earlier book, Learning Family Business: Paradoxes and Pathways (Moores and Barrett, 2002) discusses how successful CEOs in family firms went on a learning journey to leadership, in which they progressed through four stages: L1 learning business L2 learning our business L3 learning to lead our business L4 learning to let go our business....
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