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Assessing the contribution of the 'theory of matriarchy' to the entrepreneurship and family business literatures.

Smith, Robert


Robert Smith


The purpose of this paper is to assess the contribution of 'Matriarchy' to the entrepreneurship and family business literature. The literature on gendered aspects of entrepreneurship is expanding and maturing in its level of theoretical sophistication and subject coverage. At the same time, our nuanced understanding of how gender influences entrepreneurial action also expands, as does our appreciation of how men and women do entrepreneurship. It is widely acknowledged that although the theories of entrepreneurship and small business are cognate literature, entrepreneurship has primacy. The heroic male entrepreneur is the master narrative against which we measure other forms of entrepreneurship. The role played by wives, partners, family and employees is often left unstated. In our eternal quest to theorise and explain entrepreneurial action in its entirety, we seldom consider the explanatory power of the sociological theory of 'Matriarchy'. Consequentially, in this theoretical paper, we present and discuss several important aspects of the theory which are applicable to our understanding of the diverse nature of gendered enactment within entrepreneurship and small business in which entrepreneurship provides the action to be measured and small business, the setting in which it is encountered. The work primarily concentrates on the theoretical aspects of Matriarchy as well as building upon the extant literature of entrepreneurship, gender and small and family business.


SMITH, R. 2014. Assessing the contribution of the 'theory of matriarchy' to the entrepreneurship and family business literatures. International journal of gender and entrepreneurship [online], 6(3), pages 255-275. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2014
Publication Date Sep 2, 2014
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 28, 2016
Journal International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
Print ISSN 1756-6266
Electronic ISSN 1756-6274
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 3
Pages 255-275
Keywords Family business; Gender theory; Patriarchy; Female entrepreneurship; Matriarchy
Public URL


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