Women in Family Business Leadership Roles

Women in Family Business Leadership Roles

Daughters on the Stage

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores breathe new life into research on one of the largest and yet frequently overlooked business sectors. They analyse thirteen international cases of women in family business to discover how women attained leadership or, sometimes, failed to do so. By examining in detail how women have reached the top in the traditionally conservative environment of family business, the book avoids essentialist assumptions about women as leaders. It illuminates classic issues of entrepreneurship in a family business context, particularly the dual imperatives of innovation and business continuity. Women in Family Business Leadership Roles presents contemporary research that looks at the patterns of success and failure, and understand whether this is the result of gender or other factors.

Chapter 3: Frameworks and Method

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, entrepreneurship, family business


This book explores leadership and entrepreneurship in the light of women leaders’ experiences as leaders and entrepreneurs in family firms. While seeking understanding of women leaders’ experiences, we also aim to extend understanding of leadership and entrepreneurship generally, and how these skills are learned. This chapter explains how we undertook the study and the three main analytical frameworks we used. BUILDING THEORY Whetten (1989) argues that the essential ingredients of a value-added contribution to theory are explicit treatments of Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? The greatest of these, he claims, is Why? Other researchers have started to explore ‘why’ and ‘how’ businesswomen’s experience is the way it is. Even with the limitations discussed earlier, this literature is useful as a starting point. Women entrepreneurs in family business are, after all, a subset of women entrepreneurs in general. In light of recent claims that women are now more routinely considered as potential leaders and successors in family businesses (for example, Allen and Langowitz, 2003; Dumas, 1998; Sharma, 2004), and considering the new interest in ‘familiness’ of family businesses as a potential contributor to strategic competitive advantage, it is time to revisit women’s contribution to family business, especially in leadership or entrepreneurial roles. How do women contribute to the ‘familiness’ of family firms, and consequently, improve firm performance? The Value of a Case Study Approach Varying views exist about how best to set about answering questions about family businesswomen’s roles and experiences, their contribution to familiness as a resource and...

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