Who leads? Fresh insights into roles and responsibilities in a heterosexual copreneurial business

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    – The purpose of this paper is to engage with contemporary gender and entrepreneurship theories to gain insights into the division of labour, capitals and capacities and gendered identities within husband and wife heterosexual copreneurial businesses. This paper acknowledges copreneurship as a constituent sub group of research within family business and in doing so, the wider small business domain.

    – A multiple exploratory interview approach was used, with data generated through face-to-face in-depth interviews and ethnographic participant – observer multi-setting observation. This approach provided exceedingly rich and detailed data, and thus insights into the complex relationships found within copreneurial businesses.

    – The interviews generated a large amount of qualitative data, which were organised into themes through a process of recursive abstraction. Expelling the myth of the “male lead entrepreneur”, this study found that entrepreneurial identity and roles and responsibilities within a copreneurial business are shared and complementary, and are dependent upon the unique capacities and capitals of each partner. While there is evidence of duties that could be stereotypically described as either “men’s work or women’s work”, there was no apparent role tension between the partners. Thus, no partner’s contribution was deemed more valuable than the other.

    – By examining the division of labour and unique value/contribution of both men and women within the copreneurial/familial relationship the stereotyped perception of the husband being the lead (male) entrepreneur is challenged in favour of the more complementary capacities, roles, responsibilities and, thus, value of each actor/participant.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)317-335
    JournalInternational Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Family Business
    • Value
    • entrepreneurial
    • Gender Theory
    • Copreneurs


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