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.

Further Notes on Method

Mary Barrett and Ken Moores

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


STEPS Chapter 3 discusses how case studies can contribute to knowledge and how we used the case method for the research in this book. For those interested in knowing more about what we did, here is some additional detail, presented using the series of steps for doing a case study explained in Eisenhardt (1989). Getting Started Eisenhardt’s first step is to define the research question or research questions the case study seeks to answer. In their simplest form, our research questions were first: ‘What is it like for women to attain leadership and entrepreneurship roles in family firms?’ and then: ‘How does the family business context inform our understanding of women’s learning of leadership and entrepreneurship in family firms?’ and ‘How might women’s learning contribute to the unique resources of “familiness”, which help the family firm sustain competitive advantage?’ These questions were deliberately framed in a broad way, for two reasons. First, we desired a fresh approach to understanding women’s learning for leadership and entrepreneurship in family firms. Specifically, we needed an approach that did not assume that women’s ways of leading and acting as entrepreneurs would be either the same as or different from men’s. Second, while women are claimed to be increasingly reaching positions of leadership in family firms, we do not yet understand much about how women undertake and actually experience such roles. Consequently, it is difficult to know how women contribute to the special strengths of family firms, and how family firms help...

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