Whose story is it anyway? Narrative accounts of the role of women in founding and establishing family businesses.

Hamilton, E E (2004) Whose story is it anyway? Narrative accounts of the role of women in founding and establishing family businesses. Working Paper. Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, Lancaster University.

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The relative silence and invisibility of women in the ideological dialogue that created the 'heroic entrepreneurial narrative' is a product of social, economic and historical factors. Embedded in that narrative is the assumption that the leadership involved in founding and running a business is most naturally male. This is constantly reflected in, and reinforced by, the entrepreneurship and family business literature. The role of women in family business is not only under researched, but existing empirical studies appear to conform to gendered and stereotypical assumptions about women participating in family business. This serves to reinforce and perpetuate entrepreneurship as a male construct and limit our understanding of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behaviour in its many forms and contexts. This paper draws on the experience of establishing a family business as told by the founders and the succeeding generation in three family businesses. Contemporary studies of entrepreneurship may have much to gain by drawing on literature from other fields in order to enrich our understanding of complex social phenomena. By drawing upon perspectives from sociology and social anthropology, the analysis of the empirical material raises questions about the nature of gendered identities and power relations in family business and how they might relate to the wider entrepreneurial discourse. Patriarchy and paternalism may provide comfortingly critical explanations for the 'invisibility' of the women, but the narratives of the families suggest that ultimately ideologically determined notions of leadership and identity might not provide adequate understanding of the dynamics of family business.

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11 Jul 2011 21:09
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 15:10