Entrepreneurial families and households

Authored by: Gry Agnete Alsos , Sara Carter , Elisabet Ljunggren

The Routledge Companion to Entrepreneurship

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415631761
eBook ISBN: 9780203096512
Adobe ISBN: 9781136218620


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While studies of entrepreneurship traditionally focused on the individual or the firm, there is now a much greater appreciation of the need to understand the role of the family and household in which the entrepreneur is embedded and from which the firm emerges. To a large extent, this shift in emphasis has emerged as a consequence of two distinctive developments. First, family business studies has emerged as a separate but related field of enquiry (Chrisman et al. 2012), prompting wider awareness that business decisions are frequently influenced by family members and broader family issues (James et al. 2012; Chua et al. 1999; Litz et al. 2012). Second, there is a newfound appreciation of the importance of context in understanding entrepreneurial behaviours, processes and outcomes (Welter 2011; Zahra 2007; Zahra and Wright 2011). Both developments have resulted in an enthusiasm to better understand the role of the entrepreneurial household in business start-up and growth decisions. While the focus on the household may be relatively new to entrepreneurship scholars, sociologists have long argued that the household is the smallest social unit where human and economic resources are administered (Wheelock and Oughton 1996), and that a focus on household strategies ‘can help to elucidate the social factors underlying economic behavior’ (Wallace 2002: 275).

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