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The female perspective on family business successor commitment

Dominique Otten‐Pappas (Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU), University of Witten/Hedecke, Witten, Germany)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 19 April 2013




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.


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.


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.


The paper takes a female perspective to explore the successor commitment issue and thereby allows identifying issues hitherto invisible to the successor commitment discussion.



Otten‐Pappas, D. (2013), "The female perspective on family business successor commitment", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 8-23.



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