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Research on Women in Family Firms Current Status and Future Directions

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Research on Women in Family Firms : Current Status and Future Directions
Rocio Martinez Jimenez Family Business Review 2009 22: 53 DOI: 10.1177/0894486508328813 The online version of this article can be found at: http://fbr.sagepub.com/content/22/1/53

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Research on Women in Family Firms
Current Status and Future Directions
Rocio Martinez Jimenez
University of Jaen

Family Business Review Volume 22 Number 1 March 2009 53-64 ? 2009 Family Firm Institute, Inc. 10.1177/0894486508328813 http://fbr.sagepub.com

Based on a review of 48 articles and other research works published since 1985, the current work examines both obstacles to and positive aspects of women’s involvement in family firms. The most important findings of this work concern the important role that wives play for the continuity and growth of the family firm and the factors that can help or hinder daughters to progress professionally and achieve leadership positions in this type of firm. Research questions and methods and implications for future research and practice are also presented. Keywords: family firm; women; succession; stereotypes

n family firms, women have traditionally played many subtle roles: spouse, parent, in-law, family leader. These roles are related to the family rather than to the business sphere (Ward & Sorenson, 1989). Thus, many wives and daughters are socialized to believe that they are ill-suited for leadership roles (Galiano & Vinturella, 1995). Nevertheless, this situation appears to have changed in recent years, namely, because increasing numbers of women are, fortunately, deciding to enter the business world. Equally, women are increasingly deciding to join their family firms and to pursue their professional careers there (Cole, 1997). Despite this, researchers have produced little work examining the role of women in this type of firm. Studies of gender in the family business are beginning to appear (Cole, 1997; Harveston, Davis, & Lyden, 1997), but research into the role and involvement of women in this type of firm is still fragmentary, and little of it has been empirical (Bowman-Upton & Heck, 1996; Danes & Olson, 2003; Vera & Dean, 2005). In this respect, Sharma (2004) noted that
no systematic research has yet been directed toward understanding the contextual and individual factors that buoy these women into leadership positions, their performance goals in terms of family and business dimensions, or
Author’s Note: Address correspondence to Rocio Martinez Jimenez, Paraje Las Lagunillas, s/n, Edificio D-3, 23071 Jaen, Spain; e-mail: rmartine@ujaen.es.


the leadership and managerial styles adopted by them, pointing toward an interesting and ripe area for serious study. (p. 14)

Taking into account that historical reviews provide access to the seminal contributors of the past (Sharma, Hoy, Astrachan, & Koiranen, 2007), the current work aims to shed light on this topic. It reviews the different contributions published on women and family business, to understand the current state of this field of research and its possible future directions. For this purpose, this work reviews 48 articles, 23 books, and 3 doctoral dissertations published since 1985. This review shows that the authors who have analyzed this topic—whether through empirical research or theoretical contributions—have generally stressed the change occurring in recent years with respect to women’s increasing incorporation and participation in family businesses. Thus, although the first contributions centered fundamentally on analyzing the difficulties or obstacles that women found when joining their family firms or on the lack of recognition for their work (e.g., Dumas, 1989; Salganicoff, 1990b), authors have more recently been positive, discussing the opportunities or advantages that family firms can offer women, the pathways that these women take to assume positions of management or leadership in these firms, and their achievements (e.g., Rowe & Hong, 2000; Vera & Dean, 2005). Consequently, the current work groups the different contributions about women in family firms in two main sections:

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obstacles and positive aspects. The first section (Obstacles) analyzes the contributions about women’s invisibility, emotional leadership, and succession and primogeniture. The second section (Positive Aspects) summarizes the works about two different topics: women’s professional careers in the family firm and running the family firm. This order was chosen to reflect the above-mentioned evolution. In some cases, there is some overlap between the categories, but this is necessary to have a global view of the different contributions of women in family firms.

Women’s Invisibility
Different gender stereotypes exist in society, and women suffer discrimination, which stops them from reaching positions of responsibility or at least slows their progress. At both the social level and the organizational level, a number of factors influence women’s incorporation into this type of position. Occupational segregation, underrepresentation in upper-level management, and expectations about traditional family roles can restrict women to certain industrial sectors and affect their motivation and goals for their business ventures (Aldrich, 1989). Family firms are not immune to this discrimination or these stereotypes (Jaffe, 1990; Salganicoff, 1990a). In other words, women who work in family businesses face issues similar to those that all businesswomen face (Starr & Yudkin, 1996). However, they also have problems that are unique to their situations, such as conflict over roles and loyalties, relationships with parents, siblings and nonfamily members, and struggles for power and authority (Dumas, 1992; Rosenblatt, De Mik, Anderson, & Johnson, 1985; Salganicoff, 1990b). The cultural tradition that puts women and men in different social positions—with definitions of their responsibilities in work and the home based on gender—plays an important part in keeping women in the family firm invisible (Rowe & Hong, 2000). Women’s professional responsibilities outside the home traditionally took second place to their obligations to administer and manage the domestic, emotional, and social life of the family (Gillis-Donovan & Moynihan-Bradt, 1990; Lyman, Salganicoff, & Hollander, 1985; Moen, 1992). Men, however, traditionally organized their lives around the demands of their work (Hood, 1986). Even nowadays, it is difficult to change this allocation of responsibilities biased by gender, given that both men and women are reluctant to upset the balance of professional and family roles that emotionally connect to their traditional masculine and

feminine identities (Berk & Shih, 1980, cited in Rowe & Hong, 2000; Freudenberger, Freedheim, & Kurtz, 1989). The strength of these traditional family roles, both in society and in family, keeps women’s contributions in family firms from becoming better known (Lyman et al., 1985). Thus, although women have normally been directly involved in the daily operations of the family firm, they have not received any recognition for their contribution, in the shape of either a formal position in the company or a salary; consequently, they have not received the same consideration as their male relatives have, either inside or outside the company (Hollander & Bukowitz, 1990; Nelton, 1986; Salganicoff, 1990b). This may be the reason why consultants, the family, and even the women themselves underestimate women’s influence in family firms (Iannarelli, 1992). Cole (1993, 1997) confirmed women’s invisibility in the family firm, in a qualitative study involving interviews with 12 women and 11 men belonging to nine family firms. All respondents recognized that people often ignore the work that women do in the family business. This is especially true of nonfamily members—in other words, customers, suppliers, directors of other companies, and so forth. One of the participants—a woman of 65—claimed that few changes had occurred between her generation and that of her daughters, with respect to women’s acceptance in the business world. Moreover, the contributions of some women in their family firms remain in the shadows or in the background because women normally take on roles as assistants, informal advisers, or mediators between the members of the family who formally run the company (Francis, 1999; Gillis-Donovan & Moynihan-Bradt, 1990) or because, in Frishkoff and Brown’s words (1993), they belong to the outward division of labor in the family business, meaning that the wife remains outside the firm, taking care of the domestic and family side, whereas her husband is responsible for the business side. In a study of couples who are co-owners of family firms, Marshack (1994) found that traditional gender stereotypes were clearly reflected in the types of tasks that each partner assumed in the firm and the family. Thus, the wives mainly did the accounting and secretarial work, as well as most of the household tasks, whereas their husbands were mainly responsible for equipment maintenance and the negotiation of contracts. Moreover, many of the wives were ready to sacrifice their own career prospects to avoid or dampen possible gender role conflicts (Marshack, 1993). Nevertheless, Marshack (1994) found that although wives are still invisible in the leadership of the family business, they are fundamental to the dayto-day running of the business and the family.

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Indeed, some authors class the women’s role in the family firm as a highly important one, not only because of the unpaid part of their work in the family but also because of their general employment in the firm—which, as Galiano and Vinturella (1995) pointed out, has traditionally been in “feminine” areas, such as human resources, dealing with customers, sales support, and so on. This unpaid work contributes, directly and indirectly, to the economic well-being of the family and, consequently, that of the firm. It includes household tasks, bringing up the children, caring for ill or elderly relatives, helping the husband in his work, and managing the family finances (Voydanoff, 1990). Rowe and Hong (2000) carried out a study of 498 households in which the family participated in a family firm to discover the influence of the woman’s work on the family finances. The results of this research show that the women contributed to the finances of the family and to those of the firm in a variety of ways and, indeed, that their contribution was critical and substantial. For the majority of the wives analyzed, their main contribution to the economic wellbeing of the family was through their employment, either inside or outside the family firm, although some women combined two jobs, one in the family firm and another outside. These women are the ones that have the most impact, earning around 30% of the total family income. Another important finding of this study is that the women who were working in family firms sometimes did not earn salaries, and when they did, their salaries were lower than the men’s—more evidence that women’s work is undervalued. Lyman (1988) and Nelton (1997) also discussed this salary aspect and found that many women—particularly, daughters of the founders—work unpaid in the firm during their vacations or they work part-time during their studies, because they see this as helping their families, rather than as work. Nelton noted that in a conversation with Iannarelli, the latter author said that this is a common practice and yet more evidence of the different forms of socialization that sons and daughters receive, given that the sons who do as the daughters do normally earn some money for their work.

them, in an attempt to maintain stability in the personal and business relationships, and they have taken on the role of caretaker for their father and the business (Dumas, 1989). In addition, women have always given unconditional support—sacrificing money, time, and effort—to the founder of the firm, whether he is a husband, son, brother, or father. Frishkoff and Brown (1993) argued that even if the woman were not an employee or stockholder, she should certainly be considered a stakeholder in terms of risk, effort, and commitment to the company. Lyman et al. (1985) also argued that the position of women, as carers of the family’s affairs, can give them a unique knowledge about both the family and the business. This knowledge may also be due to the fact that these women tend to be the main confidante and support of the founder, particularly when she is his wife. Also extremely important is women’s role in the transmission of the values of both the family and the firm to the children through their upbringing—what Dugan et al. (2008) called “nurturer of the next generation of leaders.” According to these authors,
as they raise their children, they transmit the values to the next generation that will be so vital to business continuity and success—values such as hard work, caring about the people around you and understanding that the family should serve the business, not abuse or exploit it. (p. 23)

Emotional Leadership
In this spirit of helping the family and caring for the father, husband, or brother, perhaps the most important traditional role that women play in the family firm has been to care for the peace and harmony in the family and in the firm and to help avoid the appearance of conflicts between the relatives who work together in the firm—particularly, the founder and his son. Thus, women have traditionally mediated between

In other words, mothers teach their children to love the company. In this respect, some authors use the term emotional leadership or chief emotional officer (Lyman, 1988; Salganicoff, 1990b; Ward, 1987). Ward (1987) considered that women carry out their task of emotional leadership in the family firm and that they frequently do so unrecognized: They interpret the behavior of one family member to another, they keep the communication channel open, they ensure that feelings are considered, and they plan special family functions. In a classification of spousal role types, Poza and Messer (2001) referred to this aspect in two of six categories: “chief trust officer” and “senior advisor and keeper of the family values.” The authors pointed out that “whether spouses are in formal or informal positions, recognized or unrecognized for their contributions, they often adopt a role that seeks to preserve and strengthen family unity and the feasibility of family business continuity” (p. 34). Consequently, women, though invisible, can occupy an important leadership role both in the family and the firm. This role that women assume in the family firm seems to be crucial during the succession process, given that the role of

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emotional leader is much more difficult to replace than that of the CEO. Indeed, various authors (Gilligan, 1987; Lipman, 1984; Powell, 1988) have argued that women possess certain psychological characteristics that make them better suited to the roles of caretaker, peacemaker, and conflict solver. Salganicoff (1990b) argued that because of these gender characteristics, women in family firms exhibit behaviors such as loyalty to the company, concern for other family members, and a sensitivity to the needs of others—characteristics that are fundamental for the success and survival of the family firm.

Succession and Primogeniture
Women’s invisibility and the stereotypical roles they assume are also evident when analyzing the processes by which daughters join the family firm and when analyzing the processes of succession, in which women are rarely considered serious candidates to succeed to leadership—usually, during a crisis or when the founder has no sons (Curimbaba, 2002; Dumas, 1992, 1998; Haberman & Danes, 2007). This is largely due to the fact that many family firms conduct these processes following the primogeniture criterion, according to which the firstborn male child will eventually take over the family firm (D’Arquer, 1992; Llano & Olguin, 1986). In many family firms, this traditional criterion is, according to Cabrera Suárez (1997), an automatic assumption freeing fathers from the disagreeable task of comparing and choosing between their children. At the same time, it is an underuse of a resource that could be quite valuable and critical to the family firm—the abilities and skills of the founder’s daughter—and it means that many opportunities to develop professionally in the firm are closed to women. Hollander and Bukowitz (1990) studied the impact of the family culture on women’s professional opportunities in the firm. They found that primogeniture was implicit in the decision-making process of the firms they studied and that, consequently, women could never take over those firms. Salganicoff (1990b) also found that gender bias in the family culture can influence the decision-making process, including the choice of successor. In the same line, Keating and Little (1997) identified gender as the most important factor in the choice of the successor; in fact, they found the existence of an implicit rule, according to which, the daughters cannot be successors. However, Brockhaus (2004) argued that more research is necessary into the role of the primogeniture criterion in family firms. In recent years, research has suggested that many families are choosing to create a team of siblings—male and

female—to share the leadership and ownership in the future (Aronoff, 1998; Gersick, Lansberg, Desjardins, & Dunn, 1999) so that all the descendants are potential successors, regardless of gender.1 Probably as a consequence of these implicit rules, women do not often even think about joining their family firms when considering their future career options (Dumas, 1992; Goldberg & Wooldridge, 1993; Vera & Dean, 2005).2 For example, in a study of 91 women, Salganicoff (1990b) found that only 27% of them wanted to join the family firm. The reasons they gave for wanting to join were as follows: helping the family, filling a position that no other relative wants, and being dissatisfied in another job. Moreover, the women did not see their work in the family firm as a professional career, and they did not aim to own the firm; rather, they saw it as just another job. The women whom Vera and Dean (2005) interviewed largely coincide in this aspect. Dumas (1989, 1992) also found that women do not plan a career in the family business and do not aspire to ownership but come into the business to help the family in a time of crisis or because other options are less attractive. In 90% of cases, these women see their participation in the family firm as being only temporary. Many authors criticize the primogeniture criterion and recommend that firms plan participation and succession based on criteria related to the abilities of each candidate, not to gender, so that increasing numbers of women can challenge the tradition of transferring leadership from the father to the firstborn male child in family firms (e.g., Bertaso Barbieri, 1997; Dumas, Dupuis, Richer, & St.-Cyr, 1995; Nelton, 1998, 1999). Wives and daughters would then increasingly seek to pursue professional careers in their family firms. According to Barnes and Kaftan (1990), daughters come up against considerable obstacles to gaining power in family firms because they often face the skepticism of their father and brothers, who see them as being either incompetent or ignorant about the business. Normally, the father puts up the most resistance (Barnes, 1988). The daughter must constantly show her father that she is ready and interested in taking over the family business (Korman & Habler, 1991). The founder’s reluctance to hand over the running of the firm to his daughter, the woman’s own self-esteem, and the hostility of some workers who are unwilling to work under a female boss are serious obstacles that women must overcome in their path toward management (Dumas, 1989). However, the decision to join the family firm, with the aim of building a successful career in the business world, can be very difficult for the woman (whether wife or daughter). Various researchers find that women face a difficult role conflict,3 namely, between the expected family role (i.e., filling

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the needs of the family, being a good wife and mother) and the expected business role (i.e., their own career needs; Dumas, 1990; Hollander & Bukowitz, 1990; Lyman, 1988). Women are aware that they cannot be “superwomen,” capable of perfectly responding to all the subsystems surrounding them (their family, the firm, and themselves); so, they have to sacrifice one to triumph in another. The problem is that they can feel guilty if they neglect the family to succeed in the firm. Cole (1997) and Vera and Dean (2005) found that one of the aspects that most concerned their respondents involved the problem of how to combine professional responsibilities with the caring of their children. Moreover, and coinciding with the women in Salganicoff’s study (1990b), many women constantly received conflicting messages in this respect—for example, “Devote yourself to the firm” versus “When are you going to give me a grandchild?” Moreover, Lyman (1988) considered the influence of the professional and family expectations created around women, suggesting that people expect women to behave in a particular way in the family firm. For example, women are expected to always be ready to listen and to respond to others’ needs, to refrain from criticizing, to care for and accept others, and so forth. Thus, people expect women to assume the role of the peacemaker and the person who cares for others in the firm—in short, a sort of “mother to the workers.” All this can lead women to feel unsure about what to do and in which direction to head (Freudenberger et al., 1989). Thus, they can choose between (a) assuming these traditional roles and sacrificing their career aims and (b) pursuing their professional careers—in which case, they will have to face some recrimination from their families and third parties, as well as risk giving a masculine, aggressive image of themselves. Another type of role conflict arises when women feel ready to be the successors and to assume the leadership role but because of the previously mentioned implicit rules (e.g., the primogeniture criterion) are aware that this is impossible. These women must settle for another type of role and participation in the firm, which is demotivating. Iannarelli (1992) identified differences in the socialization that sons and daughters receive for their entry into the firm and for future succession. Thus, daughters generally spend less time in the firm and learn fewer skills, and their families do not strongly encourage them to pursue their professional careers in the firm. Instead, the daughter is mainly socialized to care for her children, husband, and home. Few studies have examined succession and gender. One of the most cited and important is that of Dumas (1989, 1992), who compared father–son and father–daughter relationships. Dumas suggested that the latter are not only more

harmonious than the former but also of a different nature. The daughters happily assume the role of carers and do not compete with their fathers for power and control. An interesting finding of this study is the presence of triangulation such that in the struggle for visibility, leadership, and the formation of their identities, women normally compete for power and authority against a third person—the mother or an important non-family-member manager. Other authors coincide with the idea that father–daughter successions seem to be less competitive and conflictive than father–son successions (Bork, 1993; Haberman & Danes, 2007; Hartman, 1987; Nelton, 1999). Similarly, Vera and Dean (2005) conducted a qualitative study that compared father– daughter and mother–daughter successions. The authors found that mother–daughter successions are more difficult because the daughter always has the sensation of being in the shadow of her predecessor and that her leadership style is continually being compared with that of her mother. Thus, cross-gender successions (father–daughter, mother–son) go much more smoothly than same-gender successions (father–son, mother– daughter). Nevertheless, little empirical evidence is available to support this idea, and it is too early to generalize. Harveston et al. (1997) also compared men and women owner–managers of firms and found that the two groups operate under different predictive processes when designing succession plans and that they are influenced by different individual, organizational, and resource-related aspects. These authors recommended developing gender-specific models when analyzing organizational succession, suggesting that doing so could assist in identifying and better evaluating the circumstances of succession processes to help ensure that they are successful. Cadieux, Lorrain, and Hugron (2002) carried out a qualitative study of firms owned and run by women to examine how the succession process develops in them and to identify possible differences with respect to male-run and male-owned firms. However, these authors failed to find significant differences between the two groups.

Positive Aspects
Professional Career in the Family Firm
Cole (1997) analyzed professional development and succession in a qualitative study, and her findings contradict those in the existing literature. The women participating in her study had achieved high positions in their firms and had not been held back because of their gender; that is, they had not come up against the feared glass ceiling.

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Moreover, they had a positive view of their careers and considered their jobs as having a great deal of responsibility and respect. Succession was a subject that was more difficult to discuss, but the primogeniture rule did not appear to be as relevant, as some authors argue. The work even offered some examples of women who had taken over the running of their firms despite having older brothers. In another study, Dumas (1992) found that daughters were able to work effectively with their fathers and to take over the running of the business because they had been, since childhood, socialized to work and participate actively in the firm. However, various authors have found in interviews with women that they consider their family firms to be great career opportunities, are highly satisfied with working in the firm, and feel personally fulfilled (Galiano & Vinturella, 1995; Jaffe, 1990; Lyman, 1988). According to some authors (e.g., Dumas, 1992, 1998; Frishkoff & Brown, 1993; Haynes, Avery, & Hunts, 1999; Lyman et al., 1985), family firms offer women such advantages as flexible schedules, which help women combine their professional responsibilities with child care; access to sectors traditionally regarded as “masculine” (e.g., construction); job security; the satisfaction of working for themselves or for their families; a supportive environment; and more chance of accessing positions of responsibility, professional challenges, and opportunities for personal growth. Godfrey (1992) suggested that family relationships provide a training ground for female entrepreneurs that prepares them for their subsequent relationships with customers, investors, and employees. Moreover, according to Dumas (1990), the family firm is an ideal environment for preparing daughters for leadership in the sense that the coach is a “natural” mentor (i.e., the father) and the environment is completely unhostile, thereby allowing them to realize their full potential for the benefit of the firm. Increasing numbers of women have assumed these opportunities and joined their family firms, in some cases, even achieving important management positions. According to Salganicoff (1990b), family firms are one of the few areas that offer women real opportunities to reach the highest positions in business (president, vice president, member of the board of directors, etc.). These women should serve as examples and guides for others to follow in their footsteps and thus join the family business. For this to happen, it would be useful to extend the networks of women in the same situation. Women would then be able to find mentors to encourage them to expand their roles in family firms (Lyman et al., 1985). Dumas (1998) argued that having a woman in charge of the family firm may have a positive effect on the next

generation of women in family firms. Indeed, Allen and Langowitz (2003), in a study comparing family firms run by women and men, found one of the most influential factors behind the choice of a woman as future successor— namely, that the firm currently has another female boss. Thus, 31% of the firms run by women choose female successors, as compared to only 7% of the firms run by men. Rowe and Hong (2000) concluded that wives are more likely to participate in the family firm when they are working outside it, when the firm is medium to large and in a sector other than services or sales, when the husband reports some health problems, and when the couple started or bought the firm. Salganicoff (1990b) suggested that women who have the right skills, education, and experience will be more likely to be considered for managerial roles in family firms. Dumas (1998) carried out a much more specific and comprehensive analysis of the participation and leadership of women in family firms. The researcher aimed to determine which pathways women follow to achieve that participation, which factors influence this, and which characteristics of the women and the firms are associated with achieving that goal. Dumas interviewed 702 women who were actively working in family firms and had significant management roles in them, as well as the potential to be successors. The most important finding in her study is that women had a strong presence in the firms although they did not generally have substantial ownership. On the basis of the results of these interviews, the author proposed a model of pathways to participation and leadership. In it, the author distinguished between three stages, or phases, in the lives of women in family firms: initiation, pathways to participation, and pathways to leadership. The initiation stage begins in early childhood and lasts until the woman decides to start working in the firm. During all this time, the daughter internalizes the family and business values, becomes familiar with how things are done in the firm, and becomes steadily more committed to the firm. At the same time, she begins to acquire technical, interpersonal, and managerial skills and knowledge. According to Dumas, this period offers a unique opportunity for long-term job training and so is incomparably beneficial for the woman. The more positive this initiation experience is, the more likely the woman will decide to participate in the firm. With regard to the pathways-to-participation stage, there are four ways of starting to work full-time in the firm: start a firm, start at the bottom and work up to higher levels of responsibility, start immediately in a management position, and work on special projects. As these women participate in the firm over time, their vision of the business and their role in the firm evolves. Thus, Dumas established three types of vision:

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Reactive: The woman sees her role in the firm as that of a worker, and she has no expectations of going beyond that role. Proactive: The woman sees the firm as hers and is aware of the changes needed for the firm to succeed, although she does not always have the right skills to make such changes. Evolving: The woman sees the firm and her potential in the firm gradually—that is, as entities that evolve over time. Finally, with regard to the stage of pathways to leadership, the choice of successor varies according to the family and the firm. In some cases, the father evaluates the interest shown by the daughter, as well as her skills, education, previous experience, and leadership capacity. The factors motivating women to choose the pathway to leadership are associated with their being able to exploit the opportunity to run the firm (especially when similar opportunities are so scarce outside the firm), to use all the knowledge acquired during their education, to show their skills, and so forth. Other important factors are related to the family (e.g., an illness or death of the founder, a family member’s leaving, a daughter’s having no brothers) or the firm (e.g., a moment of crisis or an expansion, either of which require her help). Iannarelli (1992) obtained results similar to those of Dumas (1998) in a qualitative study of 15 females and 15 males in second-generation family firms. Her work aimed at analyzing how gender socialization affects roles and leadership options. As such, Iannarelli divided women in family firms into three categories:4 those who have developed an interest in the family firm and are in a leadership position; invisible women, who do a lot but are not recognized; and women who work in the family firm but for various reasons are not interested in assuming a leadership role.5 On the basis of this categorization and using the results obtained from the interviews, Iannarelli established a descriptive model that takes into account (a) the children’s previous experiences that encourage (or potentially encourage) an interest in leadership and (b) the factors that encourage women to demonstrate that leadership. Previous experiences include spending time with the father in the firm, developing skills in the firm, the parents’ encouragement and positive attitude toward the firm, the fact that an individual contribution is valued, and finally, the appearance

of an opportunity to join the firm. The more experiences of these types that the child has, the greater the interest in leadership, although the author stressed that none of the respondents were exposed to all such experiences. In addition, Iannarelli (1992) found that exposure to these experiences is influenced by gender, given that women spend less time in the firm and learn fewer skills and that the family does not encourage them to join the firm as much as they do their brothers. This gives women less opportunity to achieve future leadership, given that the father—whether unwillingly or unconsciously—makes choices and takes actions leading to a lower participation of his daughters when compared to that of his sons. Nevertheless, some of the women interviewed got around these obstacles and were encouraged to join the firm. These women developed an interest in the firm and/or in leadership as a consequence of the following factors: Their brothers were not strong leaders; the women did not have family responsibilities (i.e., no husband, no children); or their fathers asked them to join the firm.

Running the Family Firm
Having achieved a certain level of participation and a position of leadership, how do women behave in the family firm? What are their situations? What challenges do they face? What are their leadership styles? Neither Dumas (1998) nor Iannarelli (1992) said anything about these questions. But Vera and Dean’s study (2005) can help. These authors discussed the problems that daughters face once the succession is completed and they have taken over the running of the firm. The study stressed the problem of work–family compatibility and the fact that these women must make great efforts to prove their ability to run the firm, not only to other family members but also—and especially—to workers and managers not belonging to the family. An extremely interesting finding of this work is that when the daughters have previous experience outside the family firm, their credibility seems to be greater, as does their self-confidence. It is also important that the father define his daughter’s position in the firm precisely. Along with noting these problems, the authors listed a number of advantages of working in the family firm, many of which have been mentioned in the current work. Nevertheless, Vera and Dean (2005) did not analyze the leadership style of these women. In this respect, the contributions of Salganicoff (1990b), Francis (1999), Lansberg (1992), Frishkoff and Brown (1993), and Dugan et al. (2008) are notable. These works are not specifically about women’s leadership in family firms, but they do discuss certain aspects relating to that topic.

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Salganicoff (1990b) argued that women possess particular characteristics and qualities that are vital for the success of the company; in other words, women are a valuable resource.6 According to this author, many factors related to the psychology and socialization of these women allow them to offer their firms the humanization needed in the world of work. Their loyalty to the firm and family, their concern for the needs of all the members, their sensitivity to individual needs, and their flexibility with respect to roles and judgments are vital for the well-being and survival of the family firm. The functions that women tend to have in the family, such as the above-mentioned support and sensitivity, should be seen as a characteristic of a good leader. Fortunately, the recent changes in management practices suggest that such characteristics are becoming more valued in firms and that firms are seeking so-called holistic managers. Francis (1999) suggested, as did Rosenblatt et al. (1985) before her, that most women have many of the skills and attributes that experts judge as being necessary for the success of future managers and leaders. These skills include the ability to multitask, the ability to overcome contradictions, and the ability to trust instinct and intuition, rather than just analysis and rationality. Lansberg (1992), in a conversation with Hollander, said that one of the differences between men and women is that the latter are generally more aware of the importance of relationships, which may be an advantage in firms that adopt the new working philosophy that encourages teamwork and structures that are less bureaucratic and more flexible. Frishkoff and Brown (1993) argued that women are better in team leadership roles than men are because women are sensitive to their colleagues’ needs for consideration and affection, which could help to make the management of the family firm more efficient. More recently, Dugan et al. (2008) briefly reflected on the challenges of leadership for women. They argued that women communicate and lead differently than men do; that is, women leaders are not only less authoritarian but more participative and concerned about relationship building. In this respect, the authors concluded that women—especially, the daughters who succeed their fathers as CEOs—must choose the most appropriate and effective leadership style for them and so adapt it to meet the needs of the business in their generation, not the needs of the business in their predecessor’s generation. Thus, as can be seen, with the exception of these few contributions, it is fair to say that practically no academic work has analyzed the leadership style of women in the family firm in depth.7 Nelton (1998), Vera and Dean (2005), and also Dugan et al. (2008) urged researchers to study the

characteristics and personalities of women who run family firms, their leadership and management styles, as well as their performance as leaders. According to these authors, such research could shed light on the dynamics of the family firm and so provide guidelines to help these firms succeed.

This article is a literature review; as such, its most important conclusions concern new lines of research for the future, as well as implications for practice.

Directions for Future Research
The review of the literature carried out here, on the situation of women in the family firm, has shown that researchers have, as yet, said little about how women run their family firms, what their leadership style is, or how they behave with other members of the firm. There is consequently a need to carry out research into the leadership style of women in family firms, how effective this leadership style is, and whether any factors influence their behavior. Likewise, other issues need further investigation. As such, Table 1 offers different research questions on each of the above topics, along with possible methods for conducting such research.

Implications for Practice
This work highlights, as Poza and Messer (2001) did before, the important role that women play in the family and business sphere. Families that are involved in business— as well as others, such as scholars and consultants—must recognize this important role and not undervalue women’s influence in the continuity of the family firm. Similarly, the literature review sheds light on the characteristics and cultural features of this type of firm that, in some cases, hinder women’s professional careers as a consequence of the implicit rules keeping women in the background and out of consideration for management posts. Nevertheless, this work finds that some empirical studies conclude that the situation is changing; namely, family firms offer a series of advantages that help women progress professionally and achieve management posts without coming up against the feared glass ceiling. Thus, authors such as Dumas (1998) and Iannarelli (1992) proposed descriptive models of the factors that encourage women’s incorporation into the family firm and their access to management posts.

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Martinez Jimenez / Research on Women in Family Firms


Table 1 Women in Family Firms: Directions for Future Research
Topic Women’s invisibility Research Questions What conditions could encourage changes in the allocation of gender-biased responsibilities? What happens to the “invisible women” after their husbands die? What factors influence the widow to decide to take over the business? How do firms taken over by widows evolve? What factors condition or influence this evolution? Does the business activity have any influence on this evolution or on the woman’s interest in taking over the company? To what extent do women in family firms present the psychological characteristics discussed by Gilligan (1987), Powell (1988), or Lipman (1984)? What happens in a family with no mother to act as a link between the family members? Who takes on this role? How does the mother influence the success or failure of the succession process? What happens when the mother does not want her children to form part of the family firm? How does this affect the firm’s continuity? When a team of siblings is formed to share leadership and ownership, do brothers and sisters really share the leadership, or do the brothers take the most visible roles, and the sisters the most invisible? How have the roles been distributed in teams that have been successful in the succession? The future will see increasing numbers of women’s firms that are facing succession processes. In Dugan and colleagues’ words (2008), “it will be interesting to see how family business issues like management succession and ownership transfer unfold when women are at the helm” (p. 14). Do cross-gender successions (father–daughter or mother–son) really go much more smoothly than same-gender successions (father–son or mother–daughter)? If so, what are the reasons? Do family firms have more or fewer factors that hinder women’s professional career development when compared to nonfamily firms? To what extent are these factors related to the business or family sphere? Is forming part of the firm’s owner–family an additional handicap for women who are trying to reach the highest management positions, or does it help them? Is the father more or less demanding with his daughter who wishes to develop a professional career in the family firm, as compared to nonfamily members? As compared to his sons? What reasons are given by daughters who decide not to pursue professional careers in their family firms? Does belonging to the firm’s owner–family help women balance their working and family lives? What happens when the two generations are jointly running the business? What is the management or leadership style of these women? What behaviors do they show? How effective is their style? What factors affect the choice of one style over another? How much influence does the leadership style of the predecessor (father or mother) have? And the firm’s culture? Methods Qualitative methodology with in-depth interviews

Emotional leadership

Qualitative methodology with in-depth interviews; case studies

Succession and primogeniture

Comparative case studies

Professional career in the family firm

Qualitative methodology with in-depth interviews; quantitative studies (postal survey or Web-based methodology)

Running the family firm

Quantitative studies with questionnaires on leadership styles—for example, Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Bass & Avolio, 1990); case studies

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Family Business Review
and Hollander (1985), Dumas (1992), and Francis (1999) added that this valuable resource may prove to be a competitive advantage to the family firm but that it is both underused and undervalued. 7. Allen and Langowitz (2003) and Sonfield and Lussier (2005) compared family firms with female and male ownership–management and found a number of characteristics regarding these firms’ forms of management related to productivity, financial aspects, conflict, and leadership. However, these researchers’ studies compared only the two groups, finding both significant and nonsignificant differences; so, they cannot be said to provide in-depth analyses of women’s leadership styles in family firms.

This review of studies examining women’s participation in family firms is important and relevant for family business practice because it can inform families in business about the factors that positively influence the leadership interest of women and those that can reduce women’s opportunities to reach the highest positions in these firms. Thus, many families will have more information about how to socialize their daughters from childhood on so that they develop an interest in the family firm and about how best to exploit the full potential of these women for the future continuity and success of the business.

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1. In this sense, García-?lvarez, López Sintas, and Salda?a Gonzalvo (2002) found that although these teams shared management and ownership, in several cases the idea was for the eldest son to assume leadership or for the son to have primary leadership in the case of a team composed of son and daughter. Thus, gender continues to be an issue. (p. 193) 2. In contrast to these studies, those by Birley (1991) and Stavrou (1999) failed to find a significant relation between gender and the intention of sons and daughters to join the family firm. 3. The most common role conflicts arise when the person lacks the knowledge, skills, or motivation required to carry out the expected role effectively or when they discover that the role is inconsistent with their current roles or the roles that they wish to assume in the future (Levine & Moreland, 1990). 4. Curimbaba (2002) offered a similar categorization when she classified female heirs as professional, invisible, and anchor. The novelty of her study is that she established a dynamic model in which the woman’s position can vary from one type to another in function of social, personal, or organizational events. 5. It is important to take into account that not all women in business want to advance to management and leadership positions, because they prefer to attend to their family responsibilities or, simply, because they do not want to be in this type of position. In this sense, Cole (1997) considered it necessary to differentiate between transparent and mirrored glass ceilings: A transparent glass ceiling may create a barrier when women see advancements that lie beyond their reach simply because they are women. A mirrored ceiling may give women the opportunity to reflect on why they do not want to reach upper management positions. (pp. 366-367) For this author, this ceiling should ideally be Mylar (both flexible and mirrored) so that women can reach the top and so experience the responsibility but, if needed, return to a lesser position and thus reflect on their decision—all of which would allow women to balance their professional and personal needs. 6. Other authors agree with this (e.g., Hollander & Bukowitz, 1990; McClendon & Kadis, 1991). Moreover, authors such as Lyman, Salganicoff,

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Rocio Martinez Jimenez is a member of the Catedra of Family Business and the Department of Administracion de Empresas, Contabilidad y Sociología of the University of Jaen (Spain).

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