Diverse Settings, Questions and Approaches
Edited by Karen D. Hughes and Jennifer E. Jennings
Chapter 6: Should Women go into Business with their Family Partner?
Manely Sharifian, P. Devereaux Jennings and Jennifer E. Jennings* INTRODUCTION This study investigates outcomes pertinent to a growing yet underinvestigated subcategory of female entrepreneurs: the ‘copreneurial women’ who operate businesses with their spouse or significant other. In North America, copreneurship represents a sizeable and increasing segment of the small business sector. Ruef et al. (2003), for example, found that over half (53 per cent) of the multi-member founding teams in their US sample were comprised of married couples or cohabiting partners. In Canada, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of the country’s dual self-employed couples were in business together in 1998 (Marshall, 1999). Indeed, copreneurial firms have been touted as the fastest-growing segment of not only family-based businesses (Gardner, 1991) but also the small business sector as a whole (Eggertson, 2007). Despite their increasing prevalence, surprisingly limited academic research has been conducted on copreneurs. This oversight is likely attributable to the individualistic orientation that permeates both the entrepreneurship literature in general (as noted by Gartner et al., 1994) and women’s entrepreneurship research in particular (as identified by Ahl, 2006). Although work on entrepreneurial teams is starting to appear (for a review see Blatt, 2009), this, too, tends to ignore the impact of spousal relationships on team dynamics and outcomes. This is so even within studies examining such constructs as sex composition (Godwin et al. 2006), family membership (Ucbasaran et al., 2003) or cohesion and conflict (Ensley et al. 2002). Ruef et al.’s (2003) investigation represents a notable exception, but its...
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