How do women entrepreneurs influence the strategic orientation of family businesses? A typology of Swedish decision-making in Småland community
Published: 30 August 2022
Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy ; https://doi.org/10.1108/jec-06-2022-0091
Abstract: Purpose: This paper aims to add to the theorization of family dynamics and women’s entrepreneurship by examining women’s influence on decision-making in family businesses. Business decisions in family firms, in particular, are not free from family influence in terms of goals and strategies, and the role of women in decision-making processes is of particular interest. Consequently, the role of women entrepreneurs in family firms and their influence on business development requires a more fine-grained analysis of the family dynamic within the family and the business. Design/methodology/approach: This study draws on a qualitative study and focuses on the life story narratives of nine women in rural family businesses in rural communities of Småland province in Sweden to empirically examine the decision-making processes. This region is known both for its entrepreneurial culture and traditional gender order. Based on the narrative accounts of women entrepreneurs in family businesses, the data analysis method is thematic, using a Gioia-inspired method. Findings: The complexity of decision-making in rural family firms is further complicated in part due to a closeness with the rural community. Thus, a typology of three decision-making modes in family firms emerges an informal family-oriented mode, a semistructured family/employee consensus mode and a formal board mode with at least one nonfamily member. Moreover, the advantages, disadvantages and strategies that women use to influence decisions within the respective mode are outlined. Originality/value: This work contributes to the study of women’s agency and its implications in family business and entrepreneurship in the rural context. The study implies that women’s agency shapes the (rural) entrepreneurship context and, likewise, the (rural) entrepreneurship context influences women’s agency. Hence, the author challenges the view of women as only caregivers and sheds light on the practices and processes behind the scenes of entrepreneurial family businesses.
Keywords: Women entrepreneurship / Family firms / Decision-making / Gendering / Strategy / Family business / Strategies / Rural community
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