Gender and Entrepreneurial Family Business – Decision-Making, Agency and Empowerment



This special issue takes the next step by evaluating how the context of family business supports women in their agency and decision-making, and empowers them. We aim to attract papers that consider women’s role in family business beyond entrepreneurial entry, succession, career dynamics, and presence in family firm (Campopiano et al., 2017), but with a focus on what women can gain at an individual level from their involvement in family business, taking a centrally gendered perspective. While research has observed the active participation of women in family business in recent years (Bauweraerts et al., 2022), the question of whether these women are empowered in their roles has not received much attention in the literature. This special issue serves as a good platform to showcase the enablers and deterrents for women to pursue an active role in the context of family business. It is important to understand how family business supports women in leadership development, gaining recognition, achieving agency and being empowered. The benefits of women’s participation in family business should not be limited to firm and family level, but extend right across to consider the individual level as well. 

Firstly, the issue expands the current discourse on gender equality in relation to United Nation SDG 5 in a family business context.  Second, it provides a new perspective on gender theorising that considers the impact on the individual (the women) rather than the firm, family or the family firm. Finally, it challenges the burgeoning literatures on family business heterogeneity, where gender is often simply considered another variable that impacts family firm’s behaviour (Sonfield and Lussier 2007; González et al. 2020). We spotlight women’s personal contributions and how they provide unique resources to deliver different meaningful impact to firm, family and their gender. By investigating women’s entrepreneurial family business contributions and their wider involvement in family business leads to greater development and empowerment for women, and what the conditions are for this. 

Research on family business has grown exponentially in the last ten years, with a strong focus on firm-level behaviour and dynamics. Recent works started to examine the individual influence on family business in several contexts (Kelleci et al., 2019), as well as how women’s participation impacts family firms’ outcomes (Bauweraerts et al. 2022). 
Women are also found to have a long-term orientation in facing the COVID-19 pandemic (Anggadwita et al., 2022) and also influencing participation in  community and social responsibility (Peake et al. 2017). The contribution of women in family business is becoming clearer through these empirical studies, but how family business operates as a medium to promote women’s agency and empowerment remains unexplored.
Compared to other forms of organisation, family business has intertwining priorities that relate to the family, business, and the firm. As a result, women often have dual responsibilities for the business and household. They have been fairly ‘invisible’ in their family businesses yet taking on enormous amounts of administrative work and providing informal support in both the business and the family (Martinez Jimenez, 2009; Rowe and Hong, 2000). There is a need to conduct more systematic and extensive research into how women emancipate themselves from unassuming roles to become more visible and vocal in family business. It would be important to identify supporting conditions that would elevate women’s position and power in family business.  This will transform the way current research considers gender in family business literature and make a significant contribution to an already gendered family business culture. 

List of topic areas

A list of possible topics that could be covered by this special issue (mentioning however that the list is not exhaustive. For example: 

  • Gendered processes and their impact on women's engagement and participation in family businesses
  • The relation between female and empowerment and family businesses through different theoretical lenses (e.g. agency, RBV, feminist theory)
  • Contextualizing of women's experiences in family business (different family business narratives and traditions)
  • Power, gender and succession in family firms
  • Are family businesses with female founders better for women empowerment
  • Necessity based female family businesses or the feminization of poverty (or anti-poverty = through developmental programs)
  • Family business management versus family business entrepreneurship
  • Global south: undercapitalized female family (home based) businesses
  • Shared leadership in family businesses - opportunities and challenges for women

Guest Editors:

Bronwyn P Wood, United Arab Emirates University, UAE. [email protected]

Bettina Bastian, Royal University for Women, Bahrain. [email protected]

Poh Yen Ng, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom. [email protected]


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key deadlines

Closing date: 31/12/2022