ArticlePDF Available


Content may be subject to copyright.
Kathyann Kessler Overbeke
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Qualitative Research Report
in the Executive Doctor of Management Program
at the Weatherhead School of Management
Richard E. Boyatzis, PhD
Diana Bilimoria, PhD
Sheri Perelli, EDM
Margaret Drugovich, EDM
December 2007
This paper describes selection processes of successors in family businesses with
respect to daughters of family business owners. Statistics reveal a paucity of daughters in the
ranks of successors. Understanding of this issue might identify beliefs and practices within
business owning families that may contribute to the success or failure of transitioning from
one generation to the next.
A conceptual model was developed based on the decision making process described
by The Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1985). A qualitative approach was used to
investigate this phenomenon allowing for feelings, stories, and reflective thought to emerge
and provide insights into this issue. A total of twenty-one interview subjects participated in
this study. Themes from the interviews were identified, compared, and contrasted between
three sample subgroups: 1) daughters who did not become successors, 2) daughters who
became successors, and 3) sons who became successors in their family‘s business.
Findings reveal that social and gender norms, not a decision making process, drive
the initial selection process. These norms preclude daughters from perceiving themselves as
potential successors. The norms are generated by a recursive process with popular media,
parents, teachers, and other community leaders and practices reinforcing roles for men and
women that deter daughters from assuming leadership positions in industry and business.
Findings also disclose that an unusual event creating a critical need may collapse
these norms and allow daughters an opportunity to become a successor. The opportunity,
coupled with mentoring and the development of self-efficacy can lead to effective,
sustainable succession.
Key Words: Family Owned Business, Succession, Gender, Self-Efficacy, Norms,
Mentoring, Theory of Planned Behavior
Abstract ..................................................................................................................................... 2
Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 4
Research Question and Conceptual Model ............................................................................... 4
Literature Review...................................................................................................................... 6
Methods................................................................................................................................... 11
Findings................................................................................................................................... 16
Discussion ............................................................................................................................... 22
Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 34
Limitations .............................................................................................................................. 35
Implications for Future Research and Practice ....................................................................... 35
Appendix: Interview Questions ............................................................................................. 38
References ............................................................................................................................... 44
List of Figures
Figure 1: Conceptual Model ........................................................................................ 5
Figure 2: Norms Determine Daughters‘ Inclusion or Exclusion in the Family
Business ..................................................................................................... 19
Figure 3: Unusual Events can Break the Pattern of Social Norms and Lead to
Succession .................................................................................................. 20
Figure 4: Developing and Strengthening Self-Efficacy Helps Change Gender
Norms that Preclude Participation ............................................................ 21
Figure 5: Mentoring can Lead to Effective Succession Regardless of Gender ......... 22
Figure 6: Daughter‘s Personal Vision ........................................................................ 30
Figure 7: Revised Conceptual Model ........................................................................ 33
List of Tables
Table 1: Sample Demographics ................................................................................. 13
Table 2: Codes/Themes.............................................................................................. 16
Table 3: Distribution of Codes across Sub samples................................................... 17
Succession is perceived to be the cornerstone of strategic planning in family
businesses (Bennedsen, et al, 2006; Dumas, 1992) and as such, this phenomenon has been
examined in numerous studies (Brockhaus, 2004; Pieper & Klein, 2007; Bagby, 2004; Le
Breton-Miller, et al, 2004). Interest in family business succession is motivated by the
relatively small number of family businesses that survive generational transfer. Only 30% of
family businesses survive past the first generation, 15% to the third and 5% to the fourth
(Birley, Ng, & Godfrey, 1999).
Extant research focuses primarily upon fathers and sons in family firms (Dumas,
1988). Some research includes daughters, but does not isolate gender as an influential factor
(ibid). In 1994 only 2% of CEO‘s in family businesses were female. This figure includes
women who replaced their husbands due to death or illness and women who started their own
businesses. In 2005 the figure reached 9.5% (Vera and Dean, 2005), an elevated but still
proportionately low statistic. Extant research has not empirically examined reasons for the
dearth of daughters among the ranks of successors.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the decision making processes
of sons and daughters of family business owners about succession. We were motivated to
understand why and how some of them choose to pursue careers in their family‘s business
and why others decline to do so. A comparison on the basis of gender could reveal factors
that lead to the paucity of female successors.
How do sons and daughters of business owners make decisions about joining family
firms? What are their attitudes about succession and what are the specific factors that
contribute to them? Which factors are personal and which are influenced by the social
environment? To what extent do sons and daughters reach this decision through a conscious
and thoughtful process and to what extent is this decision predetermined by parental or
societal expectations? Finally, what role does gender play in the decisions that sons and
daughters make and/or the influence that others exert?
We designed a qualitative research study, guided by a conceptual model presented as
Figure 1 below, to pursue answers to these questions. The model, informed by literature from
psychology and sociology suggests that decisions about succession are influenced by attitude
and, in turn, that attitude may be shaped by at least five factors: behavior beliefs, social
norms, self efficacy, identity and observational learning. The literature supporting these
suppositions is presented in the following section. The model also suggests that the decision
making process may be moderated by gender, type of family firm, size of family, and health.
Conceptual Model
Gender Type of
Business Health
Size of
Attitude Decision
Behavior Beliefs
Subjective Norm
This section begins by reviewing the literature on succession in family businesses,
includes a brief overview of the limited literature that focuses specifically on female
successors, and concludes with a review of the literature that informed the conceptual model
for the empirical research reported in this paper.
Succession in the Family Business
Succession has been viewed as the keystone to the survival of family businesses
(Barnes, 1988; Cabrera-Suarez, Saa-Perez and Garcia-Almeida, 2001; Davis, 1998;
Shepherd, 2000; Stavrou, Kleanthous and Anastasiou, 1998). Many studies have identified
overarching problems associated with succession (Neubauer & Lank, 1998; Miller, et al.,
2003; Poza, 2004). Others have focused on more specific issues, such as competition
between fathers and sons (Barnes, 1988; Bennedsen, Nielsen, Pérez-González & Wolfenzen,
2006; Miller, et al, 2003; Dumas, 1988), the role of family hierarchy (Barnes, 1988; Gersick,
Davis, McCollom Hampton & Lansberg, 1997; Kenyon-Rouvinez & Ward, 2005), and best
practices for sustainable succession (Barnes, 1988; Stavrou & Swiercz, 1998; Miller et al.,
Most of these succession studies have focused on the experience of sons of family
businessmen (Dumas, 1988). Very few describe or analyze the experience of daughters. A
few studies note the dearth of female successors (Hollander and Bukowitz, 1990; Dumas,
1992; Stavrou and Swiercz, 1998; Miller et al, 2003; Bennedson et al, 2006). Barnes (1988)
and Hollander and Bukowitz (1990) discuss the incongruent hierarchy daughters frequently
confront when entering the family firm. Some observers have described daughters as
―invisible successors‖ or ―Daddy‘s Little Girls‖, (Dumas, 1992, Salganicoff, 1990; Hollander
& Bukowitz, 1990) who exercise dual identities in the family business, one of them needing
to ―please Daddy‖ and the other acting as a tough, independent manager (Dumas, 1988: 37).
These observers contend that conflicting identities often impede daughters‘ efforts to manage
Few articles speculate on the causes for the dearth of female successors in family
businesses and there is an absence of empirical investigation about this phenomenon. The
present study was designed to address this gap. The remainder of this section reviews the
literature that informed the study‘s conceptual model.
Literature Supporting the Conceptual Model
The conceptual model is based on scholarly literature examining evaluation and
decision making processes that predict behavior. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB)
serves as the base of the model since it is generalizable across disciplines (Armitage &
Christian, 2003) and provides a structure for understanding motivating factors leading to
behavior (Armitage & Christian, 2003; Tolma, et al., 2006; Harding et al., 2007). In this
study the three major components of TPB, behavior beliefs, subjective norm, and perceived
behavioral control, provide a blueprint to help understand a wide variety of factors that may
lead a son or daughter to decide to become a successor.
The first construct, behavior beliefs are assessments of the outcome or consequences
of an action. In TPB only salient beliefs are considered among the many beliefs an
individual may hold as these dominate the beliefs leading to an outcome (Ajzen, 1991). The
second construct, subjective norm refers to, ―the likelihood that important referent
individuals or groups would approve or disapprove of performing the behavior,‖ (Ajzen &
Driver, 1991: 187) and the individual‘s preference to comply with these beliefs (ibid). This
construct includes the role of social pressure in the evaluative process (Tolma, et al., 2006).
The third construct, perceived behavioral control refers to the assessment of opportunities,
resources, or impediments that will make the goal easy or difficult to achieve. The presence
or absence of volitional control is included in this evaluation (Harding, et al., 2007).
The Theory of Planned Behavior has been a popular evaluation assessment tool since
the 1980s and has been the focus of at least two meta-analyses which have confirmed its
predictive capabilities (Sharma, 2007; Notani, 1998). It has been used to predict behaviors
ranging from, ―simple strategy choices in laboratory games to actions of appreciable personal
or social significance, such as having an abortion, smoking marijuana, and choosing among
candidates in an election,‖ (Ajzen & Driver, 1991: 186).
While our model is based on TPB, some modifications have been made to better
reflect our particular research question. Perceived behavioral control has been replaced by
self-efficacy, identity and observational learning have been added to the independent
variables, and attitude is proposed as a mediator between independent variables and the
dependent variable.
Self-efficacy pertains to beliefs about one‘s ability to successfully execute a behavior
or course of action (Bandura, 1977). It is a determinant of behavior since people tend to
pursue behaviors and activities in which they feel confident (ibid). A dialogue about the
differences between self-efficacy and perceived behavior control has been ongoing in the
research community (Tolma, et al., 2006). Isak Ajzen, the founder of TPB, recognizes the
similarity between the two constructs but has endeavored to distinguish the two in terms of
the level of confidence they describe. According to Ajzen, perceived behavior control
focuses on a particular behavior and self-efficacy describes a general sense of capabilities
(Ajzen, 2002). Nevertheless, some researchers claim that in some studies self-efficacy is a
better predictor of behavior (Tolma, et al, 2006: 215; Pajares, 2003: 151).
Self-efficacy may enhance the predictive qualities of TPB in our study. A
daughter‘s confidence in her ability to lead her family‘s business may be a
determinant in her decision. As Bandura states:
Among the mechanisms of human agency none is more central or pervasive
than beliefs of personal efficacy. Whatever other factors serve as guides and
motivators, they are rooted in the core belief that one has the power to
produce desired effects by one‘s actions...Self-efficacy beliefs regulate human
functioning through cognitive, motivational, affective, and decisional
processes (p.381).
Self-efficacy can thus help measure confidence levels and explain underlying causes.
The two additional constructs in our model have also been selected for their
predictive and explanatory capabilities. The first, identity, addresses the question,
―Who am I?‖ (Korte, 2007: 286). People are multifaceted and have as many roles as
they have social networks. Each role carries information and expectations and serves
as a ―framework for interpreting experiences,‖ (Stryker & Burke, 2000: 286).
One type of identity, social identity, enables an individual to self-categorize
and attach value to that category (Ely, 1994). Gender is one aspect of social identity
and is formed through a comparative process between men and women and the values
attached to their distinctions or attributes. The process of distinguishing groups and
attaching value to groups‘ attributes results in particular behaviors and perceptions
inside each group (Ely, 1994). This aspect of identity is of considerable importance
in evaluating the daughter‘s role relative to the family business. Understanding
attributes and values attached to gender may help explain behaviors resulting in the
paucity of female successors.
The construct of identity thus adds value to our model due to its relational,
evaluative and interpretive qualities that help an individual define who they are within
a social context (Ely, 1994). Identity may therefore explain behavior dispositions
toward entering the family business.
Observational learning, the last independent variable in our model, refers to
knowledge and skills that can be obtained through observing others (Wood &
Bandura, 1989). This is also known as vicarious learning and allows people to
acquire ―knowledge competencies,‖ (Bandura, 2002: 273). It also teaches standards
of evaluation since models verbalize their thoughts while engaged in an activity or
problem solving behavior (Wood and Bandura, 1989). Observational learning may
contribute to a son or daughter‘s decision to become a successor. Watching a father
or mother work in the business may allow them to learn about the business or
evaluate the desirability of working in the business.
Finally, attitude has been added to the model as a mediator between the
elements of the decision making process and the final outcome. It is conceptualized
to describe the combined affective and cognitive assessments of each independent
variable that leads to a decision.
Attitude has been described as, ―probably the most distinctive and
indispensable concept in contemporary American psychology,‖ (Armitage &
Christian, 2003: 187). It serves as a ―summary evaluation of a psychological object,‖
(Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005: 28). In simple terms it is a ―continuum of favorableness,‖
(Wyer & Albarracin, 2006: 278).
Thus attitude is seen in our model as the final determinant in the decision
making process of a son or daughter. It predicts that a favorable or unfavorable
attitude towards becoming a successor will determine the outcome behavior.
A qualitative approach was determined to be the most appropriate methodology for
examining the research questions so that feelings, insights, and other nuances could be
captured. Maxwell‘s (2005) interactive approach, Glaser and Strauss‘ (1967) system of
comparative analysis, Spradley‘s (1979) ethnographic interview guidelines, and Boyatzis
method for transforming qualitative research (1998) guided the study. These theory-driven
methods were adopted to ensure rigor in a qualitative, inductive examination.
Interviews were conducted using Spradley‘s guidelines for semi-structured,
interviews. Participants were asked questions that elicited personal stories relevant to the
topic. These questions were augmented with probes relating to the conceptual model. For
example, probes such as, ―How did you feel about that?‖ or ―What did you think about that?‖
were used to assess the importance of an experience, perception, or observation.
Principles of theoretical sampling (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) determine the parameters
of the population to be examined. Three appropriate groups were identified to provide
contrasting points of view (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). These groups included: 1) daughters
who did not become successors in their family‘s business, 2) daughters who became
successors and 3) sons who became successors. Daughters constituted the core theoretical
group and represented a larger proportion of the sample than did sons (Glaser & Strauss,
1967: 70). Sons, however, were critical to the study, to permit distinctions that might be
attributable to gender.
A successor was defined as a daughter or son who enters the family business for the
purpose of pursuing a long term career path leading to an executive position with decision
making responsibilities. For this study it was stipulated that the successor should be over the
age of 30. These criteria for participant selection helped to distinguish between family
members who enter the business as a ―stop-gap‖ measure or in a clerical or supportive
position absent an expectation or intention to assume executive responsibilities.
Since no data or membership lists exist that identify daughters of family business
owners, it was necessary to use a convenience sample (Maxwell, 2005). We relied on
―snowball sampling‖ (Babbie, 2007) to identify potential interview subjects. Accordingly,
each person interviewed was asked to suggest other interview candidates.
In sum, eight daughters who did not become successors and eight daughters and six
sons who became successors were interviewed. They were geographically distributed across
the United States and worked in a wide variety of industries. Table 1 provides an accurate
representation of demographic data about the sample.
Sample Demographics
Female Non
Type of Business
Industrial Distribution
Industrial Manufacturing
Consumer Manufacturing
Consumer Wholesale
Real Estate
Highest Level of Education
HS Diploma
Undergrad Degree
Graduate Degree
Professional Degree
Honorary Doctorate
Position in Family
Number of Siblings
4 or more
Interview participants ranged in age from 43 to 79. The average age of the females
was 53 and the average age of males was 59. All interviewees were college graduates but
only seven held postgraduate degrees. A wide variety of businesses were operated by
subject‘s families, with industrial or commercial distribution and manufacturing most
frequently cited. Few retail and/or service family businesses were represented. Most
participants were the youngest in their family and the number of siblings ranged from 1 to 6.
Two male successors in the study were brothers.
Most female non-successors in the study were housewives and mothers, working part-
time in traditional female careers. Two never married. One was in a predominantly female
profession and the other in a male dominated profession. Among the successor daughters,
most were the CEO or president of their family‘s firm. One was taking a leave of absence to
care for an ill family member and one had recently sold the company. Four of the successor
sons were CEO or co-president of their family‘s company and two had recently sold their
businesses and started another. The names, location, and type of industries associated with
this study were changed to protect the identity of the participants.
Data Collection
Data for this study was collected in face-to-face interviews. Participants were
identified both through the social network of the investigator and by using a ―snowball
sampling‖ technique wherein interview subjects nominated colleagues and friends as
additional respondents. Prior to each interview participants were mailed a confidentiality
confirmation and an IRB summary of the research and were provided with one question to
consider prior to the interview (What are your earliest memories of your family‘s business?)
Interviews were semi-structured and lasted between 60 and 120 minutes. They were
conducted in the participant‘s home or office, with the exception of two, which were
conducted in a private area in a school building. Interviews were tape recorded when
permission was granted and transcribed by a professional transcription company that offered
confidentiality protection. One interview subject requested that the transcription be done
personally by the researcher. Also, one interview subject refused the use of a tape recorder.
In this instance, copious notes were taken by the interviewer. Interview transcripts were
supplemented by journal notes and memos that provided contextual information. In addition,
two interviews were followed by phone conversations that clarified and expanded upon
concepts developed during the interview.
An interview protocol (see Appendix), informed by the study‘s conceptual model,
was used to guide each interview. Questions were designed to elicit influential factors that
contributed to the interview subject‘s decision to enter or not enter his/her family‘s business.
Data Analysis
Data was analyzed using the constant comparative method introduced by Glaser and
Strauss (1967) and elements of thematic analysis recommended by Boyatzis, (1998)
The methods of both authors are useful in the generation of theory that is grounded in
qualitative research data. Transcribed interviews, memos, and theoretical literature were
reviewed in an attempt to find patterns and explanations in interview transcripts. This was
done in an iterative fashion that involved tacking back and forth, forming and altering theory
as new ideas and data emerged during sequential readings of more than 800 pages of
transcription. Initially, data was compared to literature relevant to the conceptual model As
ideas emerged that had not been anticipated or could not be explained by this literature, the
conceptual model was revised and is presented in the Discussion section to follow. Coding
was done through an iterative process. First, open coding was used to identify important
moments and descriptive categories, resulting in 360 codes. Themes or patterns were
subsequently used to group codes together and the list of codes was reduced. Transcripts
were then divided into sub-sample groups and compared and contrasted, grouping more
themes together and further reducing the number of codes. These codes were then defined
using Boyatzis‘ (1998: 98) five elements: 1) a label 2) a definition 3) a description of how to
know when a theme occurs 4) a description of qualifiers or exclusions, 5) examples. In two
or more iterations, relationships between codes were evaluated, compared to the literature,
and grouped together accordingly. In this way, the list was further condensed and the codes
refined. Transcripts were reviewed to quantify the number of incidences of each code
according to the sub-sample group. The codes are listed in the table below:
Confident of Business Skills
Invited Into Business
Mother Stayed at Home
Marriage is a Career Goal
Father is Breadwinner and Head of House
Gender Beliefs are Similar to Parents
Financially Rewarding Opportunity for Self
Did Not Want to Work in Family Business
Family Business Needed My Help
Dismisses Sister as Likely Successor
Dismisses Brother as Likely Successor
Succession Expected or Accepted by Family
Mentor is Important
Gender is Helpful in Business Environment
Father‟s Attitude towards Participants‟ Succession (+,-)
Unusual Event Precipitates Change and Leads to
Early Exposure to Family Business Leads to
Distribution of Codes across Sub samples
Confident of Business Skills
Invited Into Business
Mother Stayed Home
Marriage is Career Goal
Father is Breadwinner and Head of House
Gender Beliefs are Similar to Parents
Financially Rewarding Opportunity for Self
Did not want to work in FB
FB Needed My Help
Dismisses Sister as Likely Successor*
Dismisses Brother as Likely Successor**
Succession Expected or Accepted by Family
Mentor is Important
Gender is Helpful in Bus. Environment***
3/3 agree
5/8 disagree
1/4 agree;
3/4 disagree
Father‟s attitude towards Participants‟
Succession (+,-)
+ = 6
- = 8
+ = 4; - = 3
Unusual Event Precipitates Change and
Leads to Succession
Early Exposure to FB Leads to Succession
SS = Successor Sons
NSD= Non -Successor Daughters
SD = Successor Daughters
Sub= Substantial Difference Between Groups
* This includes female cousins whose parents are also owners of the family business. It is shown as
a ratio since some participants do not have a sister or female cousin.
** This includes male cousins whose parents are part owners of the family business. It is shown as a
ratio since some participants do not have brothers or male cousins.
*** Not all participants commented on this. Answers are shown as ratio.
The table indicates these findings:
1. Successor Sons and Successor Daughters Score Greater Than Non-Successor
Daughters (SS, SD>NSD) in these categories:
Confident of Business Skills
Invited Into Business
Gender Beliefs are Similar to Parents
Financially Rewarding Opportunity for Self
FB Needed My Help
Succession Expected or Accepted by Family
Mentor is Important
Father‘s Attitude towards Participants‘ Succession is Positive
Unusual Event Precipitates Change and Leads to Succession
2. Successor Sons Score Greater than Successor Daughters and Non-Successor
Daughters (SS>SD, NSD) in these categories:
Succession Expected or Accepted by Family
Father‘s Attitude towards Participant‘s Succession is Positive
Gender is Helpful in Business Environment
3. Non-Successor Daughters and Successor Daughters Score Greater than Successor
Sons (NSD, SD > SS):
Marriage is Career Goal
4. Successor Daughters Score Greater Than Successor Sons and Non-Successor
Daughters (SD> SS, NSD) in these categories:
Unusual Event Precipitates Change and Leads to Succession
Data analysis leads to four major findings: 1) Gender and social norms determine
daughters‘ participation or lack of participation in the family business, 2) Unusual events can
break segregating patterns resulting from gender and social norms and lead to succession, 3)
Developing and strengthening self-efficacy reduces the impact of gender norms that preclude
participation, and 4) Mentoring can lead to effective succession regardless of gender.
Norms Determine Daughters’ Inclusion or Exclusion in the Family Business
Almost all participants described a selection process that is based on gender and
social norms. Most daughters did not consider themselves to be potential successors, citing
lack of interest, desire to marry and raise a family, undeveloped expectations to be a
successor, or a perception that women are not accepted in their industry. Contrastingly, most
sons perceived an expectation or opportunity to become a successor. Figure 2 exemplifies
some of the comments relating to gendered expectations.
Norms Determine Daughters’ Inclusion or Exclusion in the Family Business
Norms Determine Daughters’
Inclusion or Exclusion
in the Family Business
“I don‟t know how much of it was my own
imagination, but I do think that ...boys were
treated differently...or there were different
expectations for us...I don‟t think my parents
ever saw me as being a primary breadwinner or
career woman...I don‟t think it mattered what
profession I long as I got married
and had a family,(Non-Successor Daughter).
“I was never pushed to have a career. Never...I
was raised to grow up and get married and
have kids, and they didn‟t see anything else for
me.(Non-Successor Daughter)
“It was more like about the babies and the
family and the mother. That‟s what I thought I
was kind of supposed to do.(Non-Successor
“I‟d sit on the sidewalk outside the company
eating lunch and talk about what we were going
to do with the business someday. You know,
this is 14-year-old kids on the street there
fantasizing about how many trucks and how big
it could be and the buildings that we could
acquire in the neighborhood to add to it and
make it bigger and put the competitors basically
in their place...(Successor Son)
“They [parents] didn‟t care what I did. I think
they were hoping I was going to find--major in a
husband,(Successor Daughter)
“It‟s a very chauvinistic industry. So, basically
my family-I was the oldest and I was the man-
the maleand it was assumed I was coming
into the business and my sister wasn‟t.
(Successor Son).
Unusual Events can Break the Pattern of Social Norms and Lead to Succession
Daughters‘ entries into their family‘s businesses are typically preceded by an unusual
event such as loss of a job, husband‘s loss of job, the business loses an important employee,
or other event resulting in a critical need. In all but one case, this event precipitated an
invitation or offer from the father or mother, to join the business. Figure 3 shows examples
of these critical or unusual events.
Unusual Events can Break the Pattern of Social Norms and Lead to Succession
Unusual Events can Break the
Pattern of Social Norms and
Lead to Succession
“My Dad felt a little vulnerable and needed a
little back up to replace this gentleman who did
a lot of selling and marketing for the company.
“I was working at the xxxxx place and the xxx
store was sold to xxxxxx. And my Dad said,
„Come to work for me.‟ So, it was 19(year)___
and I came to work for him...(Successor
“Well, Hxxxxx closed. And I didn‟t know what to
do with myself.... My Dad said why don‟t you
come work for mehe would just as soon have
paid me as paid somebody else. He wanted to
slide me some money is what it was,
(Successor Daughter).
“We discovered we could get through more
doors through our customer‟s diversity
department because we are women owned,
(Successor Daughter).
Developing and Strengthening Self-Efficacy Helps Change Gender Norms that Preclude
An invitation or offer to join the family business was not always received with
enthusiasm or confidence. In almost all cases daughters needed support and encouragement
to propel them through territory that seemed inaccessible. In the most successful cases of
succession fathers offered encouragement and opportunities to learn necessary skills.
Sometimes encouragement addressed problems that might result from gender expectations.
Examples are shown in Figure 4.
Developing and Strengthening Self-Efficacy Helps Change Gender Norms
that Preclude Participation
Developing and Strengthening Self-
Efficacy Helps Change Gender
Norms that Preclude Participation
“And my dad would tell me—my dad and I were
friends. We were. We were fully friends. By
the time I got past the age of 23, 24 we were
friends. And he would say when I die, your
mother‟s going to tell you that you can‟t handle
this; you can‟t do any of this. Don‟t you listen to
her. You are way competent to run this
business. When she tells you that you can‟t do
anything, you ignore her and shut her out „cause
she‟s wrong and she has no business telling you
that anyway.
“I considered that to be big boy stuff. And I had
always just been a sales clerk at xxxx. I mean, I
was a salesman. I wasn‟t a manager. I
wasn‟t—and I was not sure what he wanted of
me, and I wasn‟t sure I was up to it. I looked at
it as a boys club. I said I‟m just a Mom, Dad....
He just didn‟t give up. He kept saying don‟t be
ridiculous. I‟ll teach you what you need to know.
Come work,(Successor Daughter) answer was, „no!‟ I‟m not coming
back.....You know at the plant it will be like---
And he assured me, „no, things will be a little
different than what you know from when it was a
summer job,‟ and it was just multiple
conversations about why it was important for me
to come,(Successor Daughter)
Mentoring can Lead to Effective Succession Regardless of Gender
Successors who described the smoothest transitions from one generation to the next
frequently attributed some part of their success to their mentor. They expressed gratitude for
the opportunity to work alongside their father, uncle, or other mentor. The power of a
mentoring relationship can be seen in the quotes in Figure 5.
Mentoring can Lead to Effective Succession Regardless of Gender
Mentoring can Lead to Effective
Succession Regardless of Gender
“And right after he hired me...he hired a new
accountant...who had a variety of work
experience. Very diversely skilled guy. And he
taught me all about accounting....from the
bookkeeping all the way up through financials.
And I came into the business world with no
business degree and tons of humility and I didn‟t
think I knew anything,...(Successor Daughter).
...most of all I really loved working side by side
with my Dad. He really shared everything with
me. Understanding many things that I was
never exposed to whether it be on the
production end of things, our distribution
business, financial things....(Successor
“He [uncle] helped me by letting me make
decisions. He wouldn‟t tell me what to do. He
would say, „What do you think you should
do?....Well, if you do that, what do you think will
happen?...What do you do if it doesn‟t
happen?....He would help me think it through,
but he would not do the thinking for me.
“And the funny thing is he never criticized
anything even the mistakes I made. He would
point them out ... and why, of course. But it
never was a big -- he was a very gentle guy. I
never was in fear of making a mistake, it‟s really
one reason why I‟m successful today,
(Successor Son).
The purpose of this study was to understand why so few daughters of family business
owners become successors in their family‘s business. Our initial model proposed that a
decision making process mediated by attitude and moderated by several possible variables
such as gender or type of business, would explain the choices that daughters make. Findings
indicate that gendered and social norms are better predictors of the selection of successors in
family businesses. Daughters are excluded from consideration except when a critical event
in the business or life of the daughter interrupts customary practice and compels the family to
regard the daughter as a potential business successor. In such instances self-efficacy and
mentoring are salient in the choices that are made.
Carol Thayer‘s
experience with succession illustrates how gendered and social
norms, self-efficacy and mentoring are operationalized. Carol is the daughter of an owner of
a small textile factory in North Carolina. She is the youngest of three sisters and when her
older sisters went to college, Carol had the opportunity to spend time with her father. She
describes these moments saying:
He‘d come home in the evening and we would sit and talk. And we used to talk
about the company. I used to ask him a lot of questions and say, ‗Well, I should get a
degree and come in.‘ And I think it went right over his head, but it started my wanting
to come in...‖
As Carol notes, these discussions ignited her interest in the family business.
This interest was further developed when, during one of these evenings, her father
observed, ―You pick up things so fast...none of the other kids seem to grasp things as quickly
as you or as deeply...‖
Unintentionally, these Friday nights were the beginning of Carol‘s mentoring
relationship with her father. While her comments about entering the business ―went right
over his head,‖ he confided information and built Carol‘s confidence in her ability to
understand business.
This incipient stage of grooming a successor, however, was thwarted by both Carol
and her father‘s view of gender roles. Carol explains her father‘s views saying, ―...I just
really think he never thought about me coming into the business because I was a woman and
this is a very man‘s manufacturing.‖
The names, location, and industry have been changed to protect the anonymity of the research subject.
Commenting on her own sense of gender norms, Carol noted, ―If I had my way, I
probably would have just married my high school sweetheart....‖ Her interest in succession
did not resurface for another twelve years.
During the interim she enrolled in college aspiring to be an artist, struggled, and left
school. Her father insisted on a college degree, however, and she enrolled in another school
where she discovered an interest in math. She eventually declared a major in Business
Administration but viewed this as a means to a mandated college degree, not preparation for
succession in her family‘s business.
After college Carol married and worked for a large business before starting a family.
Her husband entered her family‘s business and as her father neared retirement he groomed
Carol‘s husband for succession.
As Carol‘s husband assumed more responsibility, the company began to lose money
and a crisis emerged. Carol stepped in to help with clerical work part-time. Using her
degree in Business Administration she took charge of bookkeeping and discovered that
money was being severely mismanaged. She explained this to her husband and father who
disregarded her admonishments.
Carol continued to help in the office but was dismayed by the financial fragility of the
company. Her relationship with her husband deteriorated and she finally sought a divorce.
Upon announcing the divorce to her father he ―booted‖ her out and retained her husband.
Before Carol left the company, divorced her husband, and started her own business,
she hired and trained her replacement in the textile plant. In time, this man also noticed
Carol‘s husband‘s mismanagement of funds and eventually proposed a partnership with
Carol and another employee to buy the business from her father. Carol describes her
decision making process saying,
I knew the business on paper but didn‘t know it on the front lines...I didn‘t have a
really strong grasp of product knowledge...Then I thought, well if the business can
survive xxx amount of dollars in losses...maybe it could provide a good income.
She also realized her potential partners were familiar with the information she lacked. She
therefore decided to form this partnership and returned to the company as president. Carol‘s
father was more accepting this time, realizing that she provided him with the best opportunity
to retire. He apologized for his previous behavior and agreed to mentor her. Ultimately, the
company returned to profitability.
Carol‘s father‘s reaction when she announced her intentions to divorce reveals the
supremacy of gendered norms over competency. Carol understood this saying, ―You know
he‘s from WWII-that generationand women are supposed to stay home… and so I
understand him and I understand where he‘s coming from...‖
While norms guided the first rendering of succession, Carol‘s return to the company
was guided by self-efficacy and support from her partner. She did not have the knowledge to
lead the business without a mentor, but she would not have considered a partnership if she
had not been confident of her ability to operate the business successfully. The influence of
self-efficacy is apparent in her comment, ―I probably always saw that I had the ability to rally
people and ...get people involved. I think I‘m a lot like my Dad in that way. I just think I
always had the ability, I just never was allowed to use it.‖
Carol‘s experience reflects patterns found in our data. Daughters, and in many
cases, parents, viewed marriage as the normative goal for women.
Theorists of social and gender identity are divided over the origins of gender norms.
The argument centers on the impact of the environment versus the impact of cognitive
assessment of gender definitions. This debate between nature and nurture has been ongoing
and is not expected to be resolved soon. Both groups, however, ―agree on the predominant
influence of culturally determined gender stereotypes,‖ (Powell, 1988).
These stereotypes depict women as relationship focused whose ideal is to be a
supportive wife and nurturing mother, (Hamburg, 1993; Powell, 1988). Men are seen as the
―head of the family... and major breadwinner,‖ (Hamburg, 1993). The stereotypes are
reinforced by mass media, television, and magazines that portray women as indecisive and
men as, ―...more important, deserving of more attention, and more in command of themselves
and the situation,‖ (Powell, 1988: 61).
Parents and schools also teach gender stereotypes and beliefs (Powell, 1988). School
activities and the attitude and behaviors of the teachers themselves,‖ (Powell, 1988: 59)
provide every day lessons on the roles of men and women.
The identities that individuals adopt influence career choice starting at young ages,
(Correll, 2001). Males are typically viewed as ―good in math,‖ (p. 1701) and this,
―competence differential bias,‖ (ibid) provides a portal into careers such as engineering or
scientific research. Conversely, females may have the same level of competence but do not
perceive the same career opportunities because of gendered societal expectations (Correll,
Corporate culture also reinforces gender stereotypes. Rosabeth Moss Kantor‘s
ethnographic study in the 1970‘s revealed that, ―...structural factors – opportunity, power,
and numbers still influence performance and success. Being part of a group represented in
large numbers...increased the odds of success without having to prove extraordinary
competence,‖ (p. 292).
Barbara Reskin refers to the institutionalization of gender segregation in corporate
culture saying, what we label custom is often, ―organizational inertia,‖ or the ―area of
inevitability that is the legacy of past decisions that took into account worker‘s sex in
classifying jobs or setting pay,‖ (p. 255).
This inertia was found in our study among sons who noted the predominance of males
in their industry. Daughters also noticed or were reminded by fathers and brothers that their
corporate environment is unfriendly towards females.
Gendered norms and social identity help to explain why daughters do not perceive
themselves to be successors. How then, do some daughters break through these norms and
Our data indicates a critical event and invitation usually precede succession for
daughters. The invitation suggests that self-efficacy engages daughters. Data also
demonstrates that most daughters learn how to manage the business by working with their
father or other knowledgeable individual. Mentoring thus helps sustain daughters in their
executive roles.
Bandura (1977) posits, ―The strength of people‘s convictions in their own
effectiveness is likely to affect whether they will even try to cope with a given
situation....perceived self-efficacy influences choice of behavioral settings,‖ (p.194). One
method of influencing self-efficacy is verbal persuasion. People are led by suggestion into
believing they can achieve a particular behavior (p. 198). An invitation or call to encourage a
daughter to join the family business plays an exigent role in determining the outcome. As
interviewees relayed their stories of becoming a successor, they usually described the call or
invitation with deep felt emotion.
Verbal persuasion must be supported by opportunities for learning and mastering
coping skills. Unless an individual acquires skills for controlling potential threats, an
environment may be perceived as anxiety producing and may impede behaviors that could
extinguish the threat. Performance accomplishments are thus also necessary for augmenting
self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977). Studies have shown that exposure to anxiety producing
situations where the environment is structured to enable successful results is one of the most
effective ways to increase self-efficacy. ―Successes raise mastery expectations,‖ (p.195) and
increase the likelihood that an individual will persist through difficult challenges.
Self-Efficacy can also be enhanced through vicarious experience, or watching
someone else perform a difficult task without adverse responses. Viewing ―sustained effort
with substantiating comparative information,‖ (p. 198) allows an individual to believe they
can accomplish what the model has accomplished. (Bandura).
Successor daughters in our study frequently noted the importance of observing their
father or other important referent in their family‘s business. They also described successes
and sometimes failures in attempting to solve difficult problems. Usually these were
portrayed as opportunities to learn about their new environment.
The processes Bandura describes for building self-efficacy, verbal persuasions,
performance accomplishments, and vicarious experiences, suggest the need for a mentor.
Mentoring provides support, guidance, and counseling so that a protégé can learn, ―technical,
interpersonal, and political skills...and competencies in a particular work context, (Krum,
Boyatzis (2007) explains mentors are necessary for supporting intentional, sustainable
change. He describes five steps for achieving change: 1) determining the Ideal Self, 2)
determining the Real Self, 3) Evaluating strengths and gaps, 4) formulating a learning
agenda, and 5) practice and mastery of the new behaviors and thoughts so that new neurons
are built to sustain these changes.
Boyatzis notes, ―Without the guiding observations or support of a mentor...the result
might be fear or avoidance of that which appears chaotic and therefore renders us unable to
pursue or foster such change,‖ (p.449).
Interviewees described the power of their relationship with their father, uncle, or
other individual who acted as their mentor. The phrase, ―working side-by-side‖ was
expressed repeatedly and noted as the primary contributing factor to their success. Mentors
not only provided technical support but what Krum calls, ―psychosocial functions,‖ (p.608)
helping the individual develop a sense of competence, confidence, and effectiveness (ibid).
The value of a mentor and developing self-efficacy was captured by one daughter
who stated:
I think for him to sit back and say, ―I‘m willing to have my daughter run this
business‖ was pretty remarkable. And then to allow me to work next to
him...providing opportunities ...explaining things as we went along advice
and support... He believed in his daughter and once I was here he made sure it
worked. He could have put this in place and then not given me the support or then
decided that it was too tough or whatever.... So he had three components that really
contributed to our success: providing opportunities, careful succession planning, and
believing in me.
Gender and social norms, self-efficacy and mentoring theoretically explain the
selection process that leads to a successor. Examining these theories together reveals a
recursive system that prevents daughters from becoming successors. Reskin describes such a
system when she states, ―From the time women and men first went out to work, they have
done different jobs,‖ (p. 245). The family and business systems that designate the male as
breadwinners and leaders and females as delicate, supportive wives and mothers, (Powell,
Reskin, 1993; Hamburg, 1993; Correll, 2001) prevent daughters from viewing their family‘s
business as a place of opportunity and reward. Their perceived role relative to the business
is therefore both endogenous and exogenous. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle that is
difficult to breach without intervention from an individual or a significant shift in social and
gender norms.
Daughter’s Personal Vision
Mass Media
Wife and Mother
Needs Protection
Women are not good in math
and science.
Women do not belong in male
dominated business.
Daughter’s Personal Vision
This diagram illustrates how social institutions individually and collectively
perpetuate gender norms. Beginning with families, norms are communicated. They are then
reinforced and amplified by schools and communities, religious organizations, and mass
media. Each institution influences another and a feedback system is created.
As indicated in the interviews in this study, parents have different expectations for
daughters and sons. Thus the cycle begins. Daughters are encouraged to be compliant, in
need of protection, and to aspire to marriage and motherhood. As one non-successor
daughter stated, ―What‘s my role? To go along and get along.‖ Another daughter described
her parents‘ attitude towards protecting females saying,
...when I was 19 I had to go back to Chicago for the find an apartment or
something. So my parents didn‘t want me to go alone so they sent my 11-year-old
brother with me. And I don‘t know what he was supposed to do...It was just absurd...
but it was because they thought he was a boy and he wouldn‘t get lost and I would.
The importance of marriage and raising a family is described in Figure 2. This was one
of the most dominant themes in the interviews.
Schools and communities encourage and reinforce gender norms (Powell). Activities
for boys and girls are supported at different levels, favoritism is shown towards boys, and
boys receive more encouragement in math and science (Williams, 2002; Correll, 2001). In a
study of gender norms in a northeastern school, Susan L. Williams describes efforts made by
a group of girls to organize a softball team. This included trying to find a sponsor, coach,
equipment, and other resources. When they finally accomplished these tasks, the boy‘s
softball coach told them, ―It‘s too late now-that‘s your own fault,‖ (p. 43). These behaviors
and policies of school officials reinforce parents‘ beliefs that boys are more capable and
deserve more attention.
Norms are further articulated in religious communities that encourage daughters to
aspire to marriage and motherhood (Alumkal, 1999; Cott, 2000). Again, these values are
reflected back to schools and families, continuing the cycle.
Mass media capitalizes on gender norms thereby enhancing their influence. Media
stars from Harriett Nelson and Lucille Ball in the 1960‘s to Kate Moss and Desperate
Housewives in the twenty-first century are idealized examples of women. Harriett Nelson
is valued for her housekeeping and nurturing skills. Lucille Ball is depicted as a woman
needing rescuing by her husband. Kate Moss is valued for her impossible thinness and
beauty and Desperate Housewives are depicted as scheming, attractive wives and mothers
who ultimately need male protection. Mass media therefore helps to regenerate and
strengthen gender norms which are reflected back to other social institutions and contribute
to the cycle.
Apart from setting expectations for what daughters should do, gender norms enforce a
cycle of exclusion that prevents daughters from learning information and skills that would
enable them to become successors. This may be the principle mechanism for perpetuating
this exclusionary system. As one non-successor daughter described her family gatherings,
―...It was always store talk. The men would go and they would talk. Wherever they were
they would talk....The women were not included.‖
Another non-successor daughter explained her brothers were always more included in
discussions about the family business. She noted, ―From a younger age, they were always
more involved in the business. They were always told more about it. They were always
expected to take more responsibility.‖
Exclusionary practices impede daughters from obtaining information regarding
business practices and social capital. Furthermore, included in business practice information
is tacit knowledge that gives family businesses a competitive edge (Cabrera-Suarez, et al,
2001). Without this information, daughters are not competent to become a successor. Also,
this exclusion from conversations sends an additional message that she is not perceived as a
potential successor. Thus, the cycle continues. Daughters are not groomed for succession by
their families, they do not have the knowledge or skills to become a successor and they do
not strive to obtain these competencies because their personal vision (Boyatzis), a composite
of expectations and gender norms does not include the role of successor.
Our new model illustrates our understanding of determinants of succession in a
family business from the perspective of the daughter:
Revised Conceptual Model
Social and
Gender Norms
Gendered Family and
Business Norms
Self-Efficacy Mentoring
The model shows that succession is typically determined by gender and social norms.
. An unusual event or disturbance can precipitate a change allowing self efficacy and
mentoring to moderate the selection process. Self-efficacy may moderate the process but
without a significant event, may be impeded by the family business owner.
The power of gender and social norms on generational transitions in family
businesses has been demonstrated in this study. Most daughters do not envision themselves
to be potential successors, believing instead that marriage and motherhood are their intended
goals and certain industries are alien to women. In their youth they do not foresee
themselves as primary breadwinners and do not look for financial opportunities or career
growth within their family business. This helps explain why only 2% of family businesses
were headed by women in 1994 and the growth rate has been no more than 8% (Vera and
Dean, 2005) or less, given that available statistics do not separate female successors from
women who start their own companies.
Self-efficacy appears to be a meaningful counteragent to the recursive gendered
system. Daughters who believe they have the skills, methods, and resources to effectively
lead, develop their business, and overcome challenges have proven their effectiveness as
Mentoring is an efficient method for developing self-efficacy. This has been
demonstrated for both genders but it is important to recognize that daughters may require
certain types of encouragement and support that sons do not need. As stated by one
interviewee, mentors who help daughters cope with a gender related ―unfair playing field,‖ or
gender based disparaging remarks by close referents, are providing means to negate the
adverse impact of gender and social norms.
Generally, daughters are perhaps the most underutilized resource in family
businesses. Careful assimilation, including mentoring, sharing of tacit knowledge, and other
methods for building self-efficacy can help give family businesses a competitive advantage.
A few limitations specific to this study should be noted. The sample size was small,
non-random and not ethnically or culturally representative of the overall US population. A
more random sample may have generated different results.
All participants were from a relatively homogeneous socio-economic group.
Including subjects more culturally and ethnically diverse may have produced varying results.
All of the participants were mid-forties or older. Including younger subjects may have
produced different results.
The companies included in this study ranged from small to large, publicly held and
privately controlled companies. Specific information such as earnings was not available.
Consistency in the size of companies examined might produce different results.
Finally, the investigator is a daughter of a family business owner and may have
carried certain biases to the study.
Two implicit components described in this paper are structure and agency. More
research is needed to understand how the system of gendered norms influences the family
and the family business. Research is also needed to understand how different actors in this
system can challenge or mitigate the impact of the structure.
This study illuminated questions regarding consequences of the gendered structure.
Primarily, in families consisting of both daughters and sons, does disparity in opportunity for
succession suggest disparity in the distribution of the family‘s resources? If daughters are
excluded from the business or placed in low paying clerical positions while sons receive
executive salaries an obvious discrepancy exists, suggesting more questions: Is the family
business intended to benefit everyone in the family or only selected members? Should
family members benefit equally? What are the ethical implications of selecting beneficiaries
on the basis of gender?
The gendered system may pose challenges to family relationships. Research needs to
discover the impact of these challenges or the relation of the gendered system in general to
the viability of the family business. A study conducted by Ernesto Poza (2004) posits that
family harmony and family business sustainability are linked. The disadvantages posed to
daughters may therefore be relevant to the entire family.
The experience of Carol Thayer‘s family also suggests a connection between gender
norms and business sustainability. Carol‘s family‘s business suffered a protracted period of
losses resulting from her father‘s inability to perceive her competencies. This infers that
gender segregation may be a barrier to value creation.
Individual action is also necessary to alleviate the consequences of a gendered
system. This study found that self-efficacy and mentoring can lead to dynamic succession.
Likewise, self-efficacy can help daughters achieve success and financial reward in other
venues. Parents can help daughters in this effort by offering encouragement and financial
support for training or education.
More research is needed to discover approaches that are most effective for developing
self-efficacy. Are different approaches necessary for different age groups, size, or type of
The number of women in the ranks of management has increased since the 1970‘s
suggesting that gender patterns found in this study are changing. Intentional Change Theory
(Boyatzis, 2006), however, proposes that change is discontinuous and the decline in
promoting women during the 1980‘s and early 90‘s (Reskin, 1993; Kanter, 1993) indicates
that a permanent change has not yet been realized. Furthermore, the change that has taken
place in non-family businesses may not be representative of the inclusion of daughters in the
top ranks of management in family businesses. Laws promoting equality of women in the
workplace do not protect daughters of family business owners in their family‘s business.
Further study is needed to determine if the changes in non-family and family owned
companies are equivalent and widespread.
Finally, gender segregation and stratification is related to culture (Andersen, 2005).
What cultural aspects augment or diminish gender bias within business owning families?
Are different patterns found in different regions of the United States? A world view of this
phenomenon is also an area of potential research.
Interview Questions
Primary Interview Questions (Original):
1. Please give me a five minute biography, including a description of your family
background, education, and anything else you think is important about yourself.
2. Please give me a brief history of your family‘s business. Who started it? When?
How many generations have been involved? How many family members are
currently involved?
3. What is your first memory of your family‘s business?
What did you think about that?
How did you feel about that?
How have your views changed?
4. Tell me the story about how you got to be the person you are todaystart from your
What were your career interests?
- early childhood
- late childhood
- early adulthood
- current
What characteristics did you think someone in that career
needed to have?
What traits did you think you had that corresponded with
that position? Which traits did you aspire to?
When did you know you could do that job?
Why did you decide not to do that job?
Did you feel that you had the appropriate skills?
What are your roles?
Which groups do you belong to?
Which are most important?
5. Thinking again about your life from childhood until now, who were the people most
influential to you? How much did you care about their opinion? What events
influenced you? Who else cared about those events?
- Do you have any role models currently?
- Who were your role models throughout other stages of your life?
6. Is being a woman (man) an important part of your identity at home? In your job?
- How does being a woman (man) affect your family relationships?
- How do you perceive femininity (masculinity)?
- How did your parents influence your concept of gender? Are your ideas
similar to your parents? Different? Give me an example.
7. Tell me about your decision to enter (or not enter) the family-business in a long-term
career path position.
- Do you remember the moment you made that decision?
- Who was influential in making it?
- How did your family feel about it?
- Did they support your decision?
- How do you feel in hindsight about the decision?
8. Tell me about other members of the family (brothers, sisters, cousins, etc) who joined
or did not join the family-business? Were their experiences the same or different than
9. What was the best part of belonging to a family that owned a business? The worst
10. Would you encourage your children to enter your family‘s business or to start their
own business? What advice would you give them regarding a plan for succession
into the next generation?
If the interview subject does not have children, the question would be, ―Would
you encourage someone you care about to join or start a family-business?
What advice…?‖
Questions of a Probing Nature
What did you think would happen if?
How important was this to you?
Who influenced you?
Please give me an example.
Why did you…?
Tell me a story about how your parents (or referent group) reacted when you
made this decision?
How did you feel about?
What did you think about?
What were the costs/ benefits of this decision?
Revised Interview Questions:
Please give me a five minute biography, including a description of your family background,
education, and anything else you think is important about yourself.
1. Please give me a brief history of your family‘s business. Who started it? When?
How many generations have been involved? How many family members are
currently involved?
2. What is your first memory of your family‘s business?
What did you think about that?
How did you feel about that?
How have your views changed?
3. Tell me the story about how you got to be the person you are todaystart from your
What were your career interests?
- early childhood
- late childhood
- early adulthood
- current
What characteristics did you think someone in that career
needed to have?
What traits did you think you had that corresponded with
that position? Which traits did you aspire to?
When did you know you could do that job?
Why did you decide not to do that job?
Did you feel that you had the appropriate skills?
What are your roles?
Which groups do you belong to?
Which are most important?
4. Thinking again about your life from childhood until now, who were the people most
influential to you? How much did you care about their opinion? What events
influenced you? Who else cared about those events?
- Do you have any role models currently?
- Who were your role models throughout other stages of your life?
5. Is being a woman (man) an important part of your identity at home? In your job?
- How does being a woman (man) affect your family relationships?
- How do you perceive femininity (masculinity)?
- How did your parents influence your concept of gender? Are your ideas
similar to your parents? Different? Give me an example.
6. Tell me about your decision to enter (or not enter) the family-business in a long-term
career path position.
- Do you remember the moment you made that decision?
- Who was influential in making it?
- How did your family feel about it?
- Did they support your decision?
- How do you feel in hindsight about the decision?
Tell me about other members of the family (brothers, sisters, cousins, etc) who joined or did
not join the family-business? Were their experiences the same or different than yours?
7. What was the best part of belonging to a family that owned a business? The worst
8. Would you encourage your children to enter your family‘s business or to start their
own business? What advice would you give them regarding a plan for succession
into the next generation?
If the interview subject does not have children, the question would be, ―Would
you encourage someone you care about to join or start a family-business?
What advice…?‖
Questions of a Probing Nature
What did you think would happen if?
How important was this to you?
Who influenced you?
Please give me an example.
Why did you…?
Tell me a story about how your parents (or referent group) reacted when you
made this decision?
How did you feel about?
What did you think about?
What were the costs/ benefits of this decision?
New Questions
1. What do you see as the purpose or objective of the family business?
2. Who is it intended to serve?
3. Which family members should benefit from the family business?
4. Should all family members benefit equally?
5. If not equally, how do you determine who should receive more and who should receive
Ajzen, I. 2002. Perceived behavioral control, self-efficacy, locus of control, and the theory of
planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32: 665-683.
Ajzen, I. and Driver, B. L. 1991. Prediction of leisure participation from behavioral,
normative, and control beliefs: An application of the theory of planned behavior.
Leisure Sciences, 13 (3): 185-204.
Ajzen, I. a. F., M. 2005. Influence of attitudes on behavior. In D. J. Albarracin, T. Blair and
M. P. Zanna, (Ed.), The handbook of attitude: 173-221. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum
Alumkal, A. W. 1999. Preserving patriarchy: Assimilation, gender norms, and second-
generation Korean American evangelicals. Qualitative Sociology, 22 (2): 127-140.
Andersen, M. L. 2005. Thinking about women: A quarter century's view. Gender and
Society, 19 (4): 437-455.
Armitage, C. J. and Christian, J. 2003. From attitudes to behavior: Basic and applied
research on the theory of planned behavior. Current Psychology, 22 (3): 187-195.
Babbie, E. 2007. The practice of social research. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Bagby, D. R. 2004. Enhancing succession research in the family firm: A commentary on
"Toward an Integrative Model of Effective FOB succession". Entrepreneurship:
Theory and Practice, 28: 329-333.
Bandura, A. 1977. Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change.
Psychological Review, 84 (2): 191-215.
Bandura, A. 2002. Social cognitive theory in cultural context. Applied Psychology, 51 (2):
Barnes, L. B. 1988. Incongruent hierarchies: Daughters and younger sons as company CEOs.
Family Business Review, 1 (Spring): 9-21.
Bennedsen, M., Nielsen, K. M., Perez-Gonzalez, F., and Wolfenzon, D. 2006. Inside the
family firm: The role of families in succession decisions and performance. 2007
Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc.
Birley, S., Ng, D., and Godfrey, A. 1999. The family and the business. Long Range
Planning, 32 (6): 598-608.
Boyatzis, R. E. 1998. Transforming qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Boyatzis, R. E. 2007. Mentoring for Intentional behavior change. Handbook of Mentoring:
Brockhaus, R. H. 2004. Family business succession: Suggestions for future research. Family
Business Review, 17: 165-177.
Cabrera-Suarez, K, Saa-Perez, P, and Garcia-Almeida, D. 2001. The succession process from
a resource- and knowledge-based view of the family firm. Family Business Review,
14: 37-48.
Correll, S. J. 2001. Gender and the career choice process: The role of biased self-
assessments. American Journal of Sociology, 106 (6): 1691-1730.
Cott, N. F. 2000. Public vows: A history of marriage and the nation. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press.
Davis, P. S. and Harveston, P. D. 1998. The influence of family on the family business
succession process: A multi-generational perspective. Entrepreneurship: Theory and
Practice, 22 (Spring): 31-53.
Dumas, C. 1988. Understanding of father-daughter and father-son dyads in family-owned
businesses. Family Business Review.
Dumas, C. 1992. Integrating the daughter into family business management.
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 16: 41-55.
Ely, R. J. 1994. The effects of organizational demographics and social identity on
relationships among professional women. Administrative Science Quarterly, 39 (2):
Gersick, K. E., McColom, J. A., Hampton, M., and Lansberg, I. 1997. Generation to
generation: Life cycles of the family business. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard
Business School Press.
Glaser, B. G. and Strauss, A.L. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for
qualitative research. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.
Hamburg, D. A. 1993. The American family transformed. Society, 30 (2): 60-69.
Harding, T. H., Finelli, C. J., Carpenter, D. D., and Mayhew, M. J. 2007. The theory of
planned behavior as a model of academic dishonesty in engineering and humanities
undergraduates. Ethics and Behavior, 17 (3): 255-279.
Hollander, B. S. and Burkowitz, W. R. 1990. Women, family culture, and family business.
Family Business Review, 3: 139-151.
Kanter, R. M. 1993. Men and women of the corporation, 2nd edition. New York: Basic
Book, Inc.
Kenyon-Rouvinez, D. and Ward, J.L. 2005. Family business: Key issues. New York:
Palgrave Macmillan.
Korte, R. F. 2007. A review of social identity theory with implications for training and
development. Journal of European Industrial Training, 31 (3): 166-180.
Krum, K. E. 1983. Phases of the mentor relationship. Academy of Management Journal, 26
(4): 608-625.
Le Breton-Miller, I. M. and Danny;Steier, L. P. 2004. Toward an integrative model of
effective FOB succession. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Summer: 305-
Maxwell, J. A. 2005. Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage Publications.
Miller, D., Steier, L., Le Breton-Miller, I. 2003. Lost in time: Intergenerational succession,
change, and failure in family business. Journal of Business Venturing, 18: 513-531.
Neubauer, F. and Lank, A. G. 1998. The family business: Its governance for sustainability.
New York: Routledge.
Notani, A. S. 1998. Moderators of perceived behavioral control's predictiveness in the theory
of planned behavior: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 7 (3): 247-
Pajares, F. 2003. Self-efficacy beliefs, motivation, and achievement in writing: A review of
the literature. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 19: 139-158.
Pieper, T. M. and Klein, S. B. 2007. The bulleye: A systems approach to modeling family
firms. Family Business Review, 20: 301-319.
Powell, G. N. 1988. Women and men in management. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
Poza, E. J. 2004. Family business. Mason, OH: South-western Thomas.
Reskin, B. 1993. Sex segregation in the workplace. Annual Review of Sociology, 19: 241-
Salganicoff, M. 1990. Women in family businesses: Challenges and opportunities. Family
Business Review, 3: 125-137.
Sharma, M. K., Amar. March 2007. Theory of Reasoned action & theory of planned behavior
in alcohol and drug education. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 51 (1).
Shepherd, D. A. and Zacharakis, A. 2000. Structuring family business succession: An
analysis of the future leader's decision making. Entrepreneurship Theory and
Practice, 24 (Summer): 25-39.
Spradley, J. P. 1979. The ethnographic interview. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Group/
Thomson Learning.
Stavrou, E. T. and Swiercz, P. M. 1998. Securing the future of the family enterprise: A model
of offspring intentions to join the business. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice,
23: 19-39.
Stavrou, E. T., Kleanthous, T., and Anastasiou, T. 2005. Leadership personality and firm
culture during hereditary transitions in family firms: Model development and
empirical investigation. Journal of Small Business Management, 43: 187-206.
Stryker, S. and Burke, P. J. 2000. The past, present, and future of an identity theory. Social
Psychology Quarterly, 63 (4): 284-297.
Tolma, E. L. Reininger, B. M., Evans, A., and Ureda, J. 2006. Examining the theory of
planned behavior and the construct of self-efficacy to predict mammography
intention. Health Education and Behavior, 33(2): 233-251.
Vera, C. F., Dean, M. A. 2005. An examination of the challenges daughters face in family
business succession. Family Business Review, 18: 321-345.
Williams, S. L. 2002. Trying on gender, gender regimes, and the process of becoming
women. Gender and Society, 16 (1): 29-52.
Wood, R. and Bandura, A. 1989. Social cognitive theory of organizational management. The
Academy of Management Review, 14 (3): 361-384.
Wyer, R. S. and Albarracin, D. 2006. Belief formation, organization, and change: Cognitive
and motivational influences. In D. J. Albarracin, T. Blair, and M. P. Zanna, (Eds.),
Handbook of attitude: 273-322. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Purpose – Amidst the perpetual evasiveness of a general succession model, successor commitment has been identified as an important factor. The purpose of this paper is to examine to what extent female successor commitment displays particular characteristics and which insights this sheds on successor commitment theory. Design/methodology/approach – Based on a review of the relevant literature, propositions concerning female successor commitment are developed. Qualitative case study data are used to explore the applicability of the multidimensional successor commitment model. Findings – Normative commitment was only observed in female successors at a time of crisis or when no other successor was available. It was found to be a dynamic concept and the data indicated a general shift towards affective commitment. A combination of calculative and affective commitment was found when the female successor chose a career in the family business, to be able to combine career and child care responsibilities, indicating the need to include personal cost in the antecedents for calculative successor commitment. Research limitations/implications – The findings suggest amendments to consider for the successor commitment model and the calculative commitment type in particular. The most important implication for future research is the development of assessment tools to be able to measure and quantify different types of commitment and their relative strength, in order to be able to make inferences about co‐occurrence and change. Originality/value – The paper takes a female perspective to explore the successor commitment issue and thereby allows identifying issues hitherto invisible to the successor commitment discussion.
Presents an integrative theoretical framework to explain and to predict psychological changes achieved by different modes of treatment. This theory states that psychological procedures, whatever their form, alter the level and strength of self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior. In the proposed model, expectations of personal efficacy are derived from 4 principal sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states. Factors influencing the cognitive processing of efficacy information arise from enactive, vicarious, exhortative, and emotive sources. The differential power of diverse therapeutic procedures is analyzed in terms of the postulated cognitive mechanism of operation. Findings are reported from microanalyses of enactive, vicarious, and emotive modes of treatment that support the hypothesized relationship between perceived self-efficacy and behavioral changes. (21/2 p ref)
In this study, the authors have tested empirically a model that investigates intergenerational transitions in family firms. Through the model, the authors have explored the aspirations of 18 to 28-year-old university students in taking over the family business and the reasons for which they would join or not join the business.