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 5: Building Their Own Stage

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

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

Extract

The four interviewees in this chapter—Jane, Nancy, Miriam and Ellen—are all entrepreneurs: they have created new organisations. Thus, they directly link our study with today’s increasing academic and public policy attention to women entrepreneurs. Miriam and Nancy came from a family business background, although neither had ever taken a senior role in the family business. Jane’s father was an independent professional; Ellen’s father had extensive corporate experience. This chapter’s first interviewee, Jane, founded a business in close collaboration with an experienced mentor. The others, despite the extensive business experience in their family backgrounds, all mentioned obstacles that even now would rule out succession to a leadership role in a pre-existing business, including the ‘original’ family business in the case of Miriam and Nancy. Nancy never even wanted to enter the family firm. Nevertheless, all four said that they hoped the firms they started would continue as family businesses. This makes them family business owners ‘by intent’. Like many family business owners, they indicated that they would be happy if their children carried on the business they started—provided the children demonstrated the skills and desire to do this. What is it like to start a firm ‘against the odds’, separately from an existing firm in the family background? All four interviewees in this section constructed their own stage; that is, started their own business apart from and in some ways in opposition to, their previous experience of business. We start with Jane, who did the building work with...

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