Women entrepreneurs who have positive relationships with and support from family tend to benefit from these resources in their business, whereas these links had no effect on male entrepreneurial success, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Business Venturing.
“We always talk about how family and business compete for female entrepreneurs’ attention, but the latest research is showing that the family can also be a resource and strength for women,” Kimberly Eddleston, PhD, associate professor of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, told O&P Business News. “Women entrepreneurs are often criticized for having less human capital, social capital, financial capital, with being less successful, being less growth oriented, so we wanted to be able to identify a resource that women entrepreneurs were uniquely able to take advantage of and apply.”
Support benefits women
More than 250 entrepreneurs who founded small- to medium-sized enterprises responded to a survey mailed by the researchers to measure factors associated with work and family, business performance, growth in employment, satisfaction with status and satisfaction with employee relationships.
Overall, researchers found that affective family-to-business enrichment (the transfer of positive affect, eg, positive mood or happiness, from the family domain to the work domain), instrumental family-to-business enrichment (the transfer of skills and behaviors acquired or nurtured in the family domain to the work domain) and family-to-business support (interpersonal support from family members) were positively related to entrepreneurial success and satisfaction for female business owners but not male business owners.
Family-to-business support was more positively related to women’s business performance, growth in employment, satisfaction with employee relationships, and satisfaction with status than for male entrepreneurs. Affective family-to-business enrichment was more positively related to women’s business performance, satisfaction with employee relationships, and satisfaction with status than for male entrepreneurs. Instrumental family-to-business enrichment was more positively related to women’s satisfaction with status than for male entrepreneurs.
The researchers offered two explanations for these results. First, female entrepreneurs may benefit more from family-to-business enrichment and support than men because of their relative lack of access to other resources like social and financial capital. Second, women’s inclination to integrate work and family and to emphasize interconnectedness and relationships may give them an advantage in capitalizing on sources of family-to-business enrichment and support.
Eddleston and colleagues believe that “further research on how male and female entrepreneurs manage the interface between their business and family roles, including the specific cognitive and behavioral processes by which they benefit from resources generated in their family role such as family-to-business enrichment and support” is warranted.
“Entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy. They are the ones creating jobs right now and creating wealth so the more we can help both men and women business owners to grow and succeed, the more people around them will receive jobs and hopefully create their own prosperity,” Eddleston said. — by Casey Murphy
Disclosure: Eddleston has no relevant financial disclosures.