Portraits of Women Founders and Leaders in the North of Portugal: Do Academic Qualifications Matter in the Cultural Patterns of Family Firms?
Keywords:North of Portugal; Family business; Founders and Successors; Qualification; Cultural Models
This paper aims to discuss continuities and ruptures carried out by women in leadership in family firms (FFs). Despite female underrepresentation on top positions in firms broadly speaking, our findings gathered from the project “Roadmap for Portuguese Family Businesses” (NORTE-02-0853-FEDER-000018) reveal an ongoing transformation regarding intergenerational management succession in family firms. In fact, while it is recognizable that micro, meso and macro-structural gender barriers remain, family businesses have been the scene of intergenerational changes with a notable presence of women in management and corporate responsibility careers. To what extent have female founders and successors expressed significant changes in the cultural patterns of family businesses, especially when they have high academic qualifications and professional experience? To answer this research question, nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with business women/ managers of family businesses regarding their career experiences compared with those of male counterparts. This paper finds that the “masculinist” perspective is shifting due to the crucial role of the qualifications and professional competence of family firms’ female founders and leaders. Likewise, the increase in the academic level of women in today's society is one of the factors that is at the root of the emergence of shifting in the cultural patterns of family businesses with impact in the intergenerational succession. (JEL: L2)