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Daughter succession: a predominance of human issues

Margaret M.C. Humphreys (Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California, USA)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 19 April 2013




The research asked: How do daughters take the lead in their family businesses? What are the relevant issues that characterize the succession process for daughters, what are the attributes of daughter successors, and what, if any, features distinguish their leadership style?


Qualitative research comprised reflective interviews with 14 daughter successors. Thematic data analysis was used to analyze data, build models and link to previous research.


The shifting landscape of women's roles in family businesses is evidenced through the experiences of daughters who have taken over the top leadership positions in their family firms. Skill and commitment override gender in successor selection. The women were intrinsically motivated to take over their family businesses and owned significant shares in their firms. The findings confirm the centrality of the successor‐incumbent relationship and reveal mentoring, frequently by the incumbent, as the principal vehicle for the transfer of business leadership. Emotional competence emerged as a key successor quality.

Research limitations/implications

This research is based on a single perspective, that of the successor. The accounts may include elements of performance, that is, selection of content based on the audience and the participant's desired results.


The paper provides an alternate view to female invisibility in the family business, and the practice of primogeniture. This is new research on succession and women's roles in family business.



Humphreys, M.M.C. (2013), "Daughter succession: a predominance of human issues", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 24-44.



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