The Daughter's Career in Family Firms: A Reflection on the Cultural/Contextual Aspects

The Daughter's Career in Family Firms: A Reflection on the Cultural/Contextual Aspects

Filippo Ferrari (Independent Researcher, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9171-9.ch008
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In spite of the considerable importance of career issues in the field of family business gender studies, current literature shows a lack of attention to careers in family businesses. Due to this theoretical limitation, this chapter aims to investigate quantitatively the second generation's career in a sample of Italian family firms (N=297). Findings suggest that the careers of females and males show different characteristics. This chapter contributes to the limited research on daughter succession. Moreover, it provides a contribution to understanding the daughters' organizational and educational career in small and medium-sized family firms specifically, filling a gap in the current literature. Finally, this chapter prompts a reflection on the cultural/contextual aspects that impact upon entry into the company.
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Although family business is a well-developed field of research, scholars are not unanimous in defining a family firm. This chapter follows Chua et al. (1999, p25), by defining a family business as: “a business governed and/or managed with the intention to shape and pursue the vision of the business held by a dominant coalition controlled by members of the same family or a small number of families in a manner that is potentially sustainable across generations of the family or families” (italics added for emphasis). However, regarding such sustainability, family firms show a long-term survival problem: approximately 40% make a positive transition to the second generation and only 12% to the third (Bridge et al., 2003). Thus business transmission seems, without doubt, to be the most critical event in a family firm’s life (Bridge et al., 2003; De Massis et al, 2008). De Massis et al (2008), in their review, summarized the main causes preventing intra-family succession, identifying individual, relational, contextual, financial and even process factors. In general, statistics show (Cabrera-Suarez, 2001; Koiranen, Chirico, 2006; Le Breton-Miller, 2004) that next generation failure can be explained by the scarce knowledge and skill levels of the successor. In addition, literature shows that business transmission process faces major criticism when a daughter is involved (Aldamiz-Echevarría, Idìgoras, Vicente-Molina, 2017; Dumas, 1989, 1990, 1992; Curimbaba, 2002; Ferrari, 2017; Vera and Dean, 2005). As a result, in family firms there is a dearth of daughter successors (Overbecke et al., 2013).

Gender differences – i.e. different attitudes and behaviours related to gender - in entrepreneurial activity are well documented in the literature (Carter & Williams, 2003). Literature also shows that, beyond gender differences, gender stereotypes – i.e. widely shared beliefs about characteristics attributed to men and women (Gupta et al., 2009) – have a significant impact on women’s educational paths and careers and their ability to accrue social, cultural, human, and financial capital (Gatewood et al., 2003; Marlow & Patton, 2005). In addition, the pervasive family influence on the firm has an impact on a wide range of situations related to individual careers and organizational career systems, such as gender and diversity (Baù et al., forthcoming; Eddleston & Powell, 2008). Moreover, the educational processes before joining the company, and the career undertaken by the children once they have entered the company are so far under-investigated. In spite of the considerable importance of career issues in the field of family business, Campopiano et al., (2017) highlight a lack of attention to careers in family businesses. For instance, glass ceiling, women invisibility, women uninterested in a career in family business are some of the criticalities hitherto neglected by research. Given these considerations, the main purpose of this paper is therefore to investigate the type, the development and the consequences (socio-cognitive, affective and emotive) of the second generation’s educational and organizational career in a sample of family firms, by investigating if and how gender matters in driving different career paths and leading to different outcomes.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Educational Mismatch: The lack of coherence between the required and offered formal educational level for a given job.

Job Satisfaction: Put simply, job satisfaction is the extent to which people like or dislike their jobs.

Family Firm: A company is considered a family firm when it has been closely identified with at least two generations of a family and when this link has had a mutual influence on company policy and on the interests and objectives of the family.

Traditional Career: A professional advancement within one or two firms.

Skill Mismatch: The lack of coherence between the required and offered skills for a given job.

Boundaryless Career: A sequence of job opportunities that go beyond the boundaries of a single employment setting.

Organizational Socialization: A learning and adjustment process that enables an individual to assume an organizational role that fits both organizational and individual needs.

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