Women learning business leadership: Journeys in the family firm

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Book Chapter

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Interim status: Citation only.

Barrett, M. & Moores, K. (2008). Women learning business leadership: Journeys in the family firm. In V. Gupta, N. Levenburg, L.L. Moore, J. Motwani, T.V. Schwarz (Eds.), Culturally-sensitive models of gender in family business - A compendium using the GLOBE paradigm (pp. 121-140). Hyderabad, India: Icfai University Press. ISBN: 81-314-1269-5

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2008 HERDC submission. FoR: 1503

© Copyright Vipin Gupta/The Icfai University Press, 2008


The family-business literature has thus far not devoted much attention to understanding female vantage points in family firms. A few small-scale studies, notably Poza and Messer (2001) and Curimbaba (2002), describe the varying roles that women adopt, but without explaining why they adopt such roles. Our research aims to examine the career progression of women leaders in family businesses, specifically how they progressively learn skills and competencies.

In our book (Moores and Barrett, 2002) we found that successful family firm CEOs encountered a series of unique paradoxes. Exploring, understanding and perhaps managing these paradoxes took them on a learning journey to leadership in which they progressively learnt business (L1), learnt our business (L2), learnt to lead our business (L3), and learnt to let go our business (L4).

Here we seek to establish whether and how the journey of women family business leaders follow different pathways. This chapter focuses on the 'long march, short journey' cases, focusing on women who have achieved senior positions in the family firm, but whose experiences differ greatly in other ways.

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This document has been peer reviewed.