Entrepreneurship across Generations

Entrepreneurship across Generations

Narrative, Gender and Learning in Family Business

Eleanor Hamilton

Entrepreneurship Across Generations examines dimensions of identity, gender and learning to understand the complex fabric of family business. An interpretation of narratives from two generations in five families constitutes entrepreneurship as an inherently social, rather than individual, phenomenon.

Chapter 5: Gender identities constructed in narratives of family business

Eleanor Hamilton

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, entrepreneurship, family business, gender and management, organisation studies


To what extent have researchers in entrepreneurship taken account of gender? In entrepreneurship studies, prominent efforts to stimulate a debate about gender and entrepreneurship were triggered by the fact that in the United States (US) from 1972 to 1999 the percentage of women business owners rose from 4.6 per cent to 38 per cent. Concerted efforts to focus research attention on women in entrepreneurship in response to these startling statistics included the publication of a collection entitled Women and Entrepreneurship: Contemporary Classics, edited by Brush et al. (2006). This collection included some early efforts to incorporate feminist theorizing in entrepreneurship (Fischer et al., 1993 [2006]; Bird and Brush, 2002; Greer and Greene, 2002). In that same collection Baker et al. (1997) note the paradox that this rise in women’s participation in business was accompanied by a decline in popular press coverage and academic articles on the subject (p. 573). In undertaking a project to find out why women are less likely to start businesses, Brickman (2008) encountered interesting cross-national differences. She draws on socio- logical and institutional economic theories to construct multilevel theory, to address questions about the variation in entrepreneurship rates between gender within and across countries. She looks at social structures that define the social positions from which actors take action within a narrow definition of entrepreneurial activity focused on the decision to start a business. More specifically, how have family business researchers incorporated gender into their particular field of research? Women’s roles in family business have been a subject of research interest

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