Help or hindrance? South Asian women in the family firm

Spinder Dhaliwal, Jonathan Scott, Javed Hussain

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    This paper focuses upon the often neglected issue of the contribution of South Asian women to both entrepreneurship and the management of family businesses. We conceptualise the family as a highly gendered institution. Two in-depth case studies, as illustrative typological exemplars, were undertaken with Asian women entrepreneurs who share both ownership and management of larger businesses which are household names, yet represent a tiny fraction of the Asian women in business. Respondents were interviewed by telephone. A clearer picture emerges of the roles, responsibilities and relationships of the relatively few Asian women who are entrepreneurs in their own right, and the many more who physically and strategically help sustain many successful Asian enterprises. Methodologically, the paper is novel in so far as one of the authors (an Asian female from a "typical" family business background) has taken care to observe the cultural norms and proprieties within this particular group. Hence, the data are arguably more authentic than previous studies undertaken by "distant" researchers. While policy makers are increasingly being reminded to appreciate the needs and the diversity of ethnic minorities in business, the findings of this paper reinforce this message by highlighting the distinctive experiences of Asian women in their own and family businesses. This is one of few studies to explore the role of South Asian women in family firms, and adopts institutional theory as an analytical framework.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-23
    JournalElectronic Journal of Family Business Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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