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Gender and growth in family firms: from 1750 until present

Summary of the key aspects of the research plan:

Gender and growth in family firms is an international research project which takes a multidisciplinary approach on analysing gender and growth in a family business context. The uniqueness of the project lies on its attempt to focus on the element of time and place in understanding gender and growth. The main objective of the project is to construct contemporary and historical life stories for selected family firms and to analyse and compare these with each other in order to gain new insights on growth and gender in family firm. By combining historical and contemporary perspectives this project creates new understanding on the topical phenomena of the current society. 

The research is based on historical research materials (quantitative and qualitative life-story analysis) and contemporary research materials (auto-biographical life-story narratives and documentary information). The divergent levels of analysis of the study and the long time perspective comparisons enable the project to produce versatile knowledge about the nature of family firm and its temporal transitions, gendered agency, and different business cultures, whose traditions, entrepreneurial motivations and goals have taken different trails. By its reflective multi-disciplinary collaboration between the research groups the project brings closer the rather separate fields of (business) history, economics, and business studies. The research process not only exploits the newest knowledge from the respective disciplines, but it also makes good use of their concepts, perspectives, and theories and creates, thus, genuinely new knowledge. The research project opens up avenues for unique research results that take seriously the issue of time and place in the analysis.

The research team comprises of two professors, three post-doc/senior researchers and one doctoral student. In addition, the project collaborates intensively with Scandinavian cooperation partners (GLOCAL-research project and Nordic Economic history network) and similar studies dealing with other European countries (Gender in European towns -network). New knowledge created during the project on the role of gender and growth within the family firm context will be highly relevant in educational, employment, entrepreneurship/growth and welfare policy.

Funding period: 2011 – 2015