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Gender in family business management: a multinational analysis

Matthew C. Sonfield (Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and General Business, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, USA)
Robert N. Lussier (Department of Management, Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 28 September 2012




The purpose of this study is to investigate five well‐established issues of gender stereotype, analyzing data obtained from 811 family businesses in eight diverse countries, with the objective of testing the relationship between male and female owner/managers of these businesses and these stereotypes in a managerial context.


This eight country study involved survey research using hierarchal regression to test five hypotheses involving gender stereotypes relating to family business management. The eight countries, USA, Egypt, France, Argentina, Serbia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Croatia, provided a mixture of entrepreneurial demographics and context.


Only one hypothesis supported a gender stereotype. As the percentage of female managers increases, so does the use of group rather than individual decision‐making. The other four variables – formal versus informal management style, conflict among family members, use of sophisticated financial analysis, and use of outside consultants, advisors and professional services – did not change significantly with the percentage of female owner/managers. For control variables, as the number of employees increased, the percentage of female owner/managers decreased, and females tended to own/manage service, rather than product, firms.

Practical implications

These findings offer “theory into practice” implications for owner/managers of family businesses, as well as for those who assist such businesses.


These findings provide a theoretical contribution to the study of family business because clear answers to gender management similarities and differences in family firms remain elusive, and these results expand, modify and clarify the understanding of gender issues in family business.



Sonfield, M.C. and Lussier, R.N. (2012), "Gender in family business management: a multinational analysis", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 110-129.



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