Spousal Roles on Motivations for Entrepreneurship: A Qualitative Study in New Zealand

  • Jodyanne KirkwoodEmail author
Original Paper


Little is known about the role the spouse plays in an entrepreneur’s motivations for entrepreneurship. A gender comparative qualitative study is presented, based on interviews with 68 entrepreneurs (45 men and 23 women) in New Zealand. A continuum of spousal support is described—those whose spouses are co-founders, supportive spouses, and unsupportive/ambivalent spouses. Findings show that women and men tend to have different expectations of their spouse when contemplating starting a business. A woman looks to her husband for business advice, for support, and encouragement and considers the effects that starting a business may have on her spouse. A man tends to assume support is forthcoming, and some men start businesses without explicit spousal support. Contributions to theories of family business are made.


Co-founders Entrepreneurs Gender Motivations Spouse Support 


  1. Alcorso, C. (1993). “And I’d like to thank my wife…” Gender dynamics and the ethnic “family business.”. Australian Feminist Studies, 17(Autumn), 93–108.Google Scholar
  2. Aldrich, H. E., & Cliff, J. E. (2003). The pervasive effects of family on entrepreneurship: Toward a family embeddedness perspective. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(5), 573–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amarapurkar, S. S., & Danes, S. M. (2005). Farm businesses-owning couples: Interrelationships among business tensions, relationship conflict quality, and spousal satisfaction. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 26(3), 419–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Avery, R., Haynes, D. C., & Haynes, G. W. (2000). Managing work and family: The decision to outsource child care in families engaged in family-owned businesses. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 21(3), 227–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baines, S., & Wheelock, J. (1998). Working for each other: Gender, the household and micro-business survival and growth. International Small Business Journal, 17(1), 16–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benny, M., & Hughes, E. C. (1970). Of sociology and the interview. In N. K. Denzin (Ed.), Sociological methods: A sourcebook. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  7. Brush, C. G. (1992). Research on women business owners: Past trends, a new perspective and future directions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 16(4), 5–30.Google Scholar
  8. Burke, R., & Belcourt, M. (1989). Work and family in the lives of female entrepreneurs: Having it all? (working paper). Western Ontario: School of Business Administration, The University of Western Ontario.Google Scholar
  9. Buttner, E. H., & Moore, D. P. (1997). Women’s organizational exodus to entrepreneurship: Self-reported motivations and correlates with success. Journal of Small Business Management, 35(1), 34–46.Google Scholar
  10. Carland, J. W., Hoy, F., Boulton, W. R., & Carland, J. A. C. (1984). Differentiating entrepreneurs from small business owners: A conceptualization. Academy of Management Review, 9(2), 354–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cole, P., & Johnson, K. (2007). An exploration of successful copreneurial relationships postdivorce. Family Business Review, 20(3), 185–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cromie, S. (1987). Motivations of aspiring male and female entrepreneurs. Journal of Occupational Behaviour, 8(3), 251–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Danes, S., Leichtentritt, R., Metz, M., & Huddleston-Casas, C. (2000). Effects of conflict styles and conflict severity on quality of life of men and women in family businesses. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 21(3), 259–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Danes, S., & McTavish, D. (1997). Role involvement of farm women. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 18(1), 69–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Danes, S., & Olson, P. D. (2003). Women’s role involvement in family businesses, business tensions, and business success. Family Business Review, 16(1), 53–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Danes, S., Rueter, M., Kwon, H., & Doherty, W. (2002). Family FIRO model: An application to family business. Family Business Review, 15(1), 31–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeMartino, R., & Barbato, R. (2003). Differences between women and men MBA entrepreneurs: Exploring family flexibility and wealth creation as career motivators. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(6), 815–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dew, J. (2008). Themes and trends of journal of family and economic issues: A review of twenty years (1988–2007). Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29(3), 496–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duncan, K., Solis Zuiker, V., & Heck, R. K. Z. (2000). The importance of household management for the business-owning family. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 21(3), 287–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fitzgerald, M., & Muske, G. (2002). Copreneurs: An exploration and comparison to other family businesses. Family Business Review, 15(1), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fitzgerald, M., Winter, M., Miller, N., & Paul, J. (2001). Adjustment strategies in the family business: Implications of gender and management role. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22(3), 265–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frederick, H., & Chittock, G. (2006). Global entrepreneurship monitor Aotearoa New Zealand: 2005 executive report. Auckland: Unitec.Google Scholar
  23. Garcia, I., Molina, & Navarro, M. (2007). How satisfied are spouses with their leisure time? Evidence from Europe. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28(4), 546–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gartner, W. B. (1990). What are we talking about when we talk about entrepreneurship? Journal of Business Venturing, 5(1), 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gillis-Donovan, J., & Moynihan-Bradt, C. (1990). The power of invisible women in the family business. Family Business Review, 3(2), 153–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Glaser, B. G. (1992). Basics of grounded theory analysis: Emergence vs forcing. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.Google Scholar
  28. Greenfield, S., & Nayak, A. (1992). The management information needs of very small businesses: Gender differences. In R. Welford (Ed.), Small businesses and small business development––a practical approach (Vol. 2). Bradford, UK: European Research Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hamilton, R. T. (1987). Motivations and aspirations of business founders. International Small Business Journal, 6(1), 70–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Heck, R. K. Z., Hoy, F., Poutziouris, P., & Steier, L. (2008). Emerging paths of family entrepreneurship research. Journal of Small Business Management, 46(3), 317–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hennon, C., Jones, A., Roth, M., & Popescu, L. (1998). Family-enterprise initiatives as a response to socioeconomic and political change in Eastern and Central Europe. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 19(3), 235–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hull, L. (2003). A promotion of enterprise culture theory and practices: Ministry of economic development working paper. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Economic Development.Google Scholar
  33. Hundley, G. (2001). Domestic division of labor and self/organizationally employed differences in job attitudes and earnings. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22(2), 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jianakoplos, N. A., & Bernasek, A. (2008). Family financial risk taking when the wife earns more. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29(2), 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kim, T. S. (1996). Women entrepreneurs of Singapore. In L. A. Meng & T. W. Liang (Eds.), Entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and enterprising culture. Singapore: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  36. Kim, J. L. S., & Ling, C. S. (2001). Work-family conflict of women entrepreneurs in Singapore. Women in Management Review, 16(5), 204–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. King, N. (1994). The qualitative research interview. In C. Cassell & G. Symon (Eds.), Qualitative methods in organizational research: A practical guide. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Kirkwood, J. (2004). One size doesn’t fit all: Gender differences in motivations for becoming an entrepreneur. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Otago, Dunedin. New Zealand.Google Scholar
  39. Kirkwood, J., & Tootell, B. (2008). Is entrepreneurship the answer to achieving work-family balance? Journal of Management and Organization, 14(3), 285–302.Google Scholar
  40. Koellinger, P., Minniti, M., & Schade, C. (2008). Seeing the world with different eyes: Gender differences in perceptions and the propensity to start a business (discussion paper 035/3). Tinbergen Institute, Berlin, Germany: Humboldt University.Google Scholar
  41. Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  42. Langowitz, N., & Minniti, M. (2007). The entrepreneurial propensity of women. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 31(3), 341–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lee, Y., Danes, S., & Shelley, M., I. I. (2006a). Work roles, management and perceived well-being for married women within family businesses. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27(3), 523–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lee, Y. G., Rowe, B., & Hong, G. (2006b). Third shift women in business-owning families. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27(1), 72–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lee-Gosselin, H., & Grisé, J. (1990). Are women owner-managers challenging our definitions of entrepreneurship? An in-depth survey. Journal of Business Ethics, 9, 423–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lirio, P., Lituchy, T. R., Monserrat, S. I., Olivas-Lujan, M. R., Duffy, J. A., Fox, S., et al. (2007). Exploring career-life success and family social support of successful women in Canada, Argentina and Mexico. Career Development International, 12(1), 28–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Maccauley, C. (2006, June). An exploration of the role and contribution of women in small business. Paper presented at the International Council for Small Business, Melbourne, Australia.Google Scholar
  48. Mainiero, L., & Sullivan, S. (2006). The opt-out revolt: Why people are leaving companies to create kaleidoscope careers. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black.Google Scholar
  49. Mallon, M., & Cohen, L. (2001). Time for a change? Women’s accounts of the move from organizational careers to self-employment. British Journal of Management, 12(3), 217–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mangione, T. W. (1995). Mail surveys: Improving the quality. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  51. Marcinjus, W. C., Whelan-Berry, K. S., & Gordon, J. R. (2007). The relationship of social support to the work-family balance and work outcomes of midlife women. Women in Management Review, 22(2), 86–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Marlow, S., & Strange, A. (1994). Female entrepreneurs––success by whose standards? In M. Tanton (Ed.), Women in management: A developing presence. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Marshack, K. J. (1994). Copreneurs and dual-career couples: Are they different? Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 19(1), 49–69.Google Scholar
  54. Massey, C., & Jurado, T. (2005). The support infrastructure for New Zealand firms. In C. Massey (Ed.), Entrepreneurship and small business management in New Zealand. Auckland: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  55. Masuo, D., Fong, G., Yanagida, J., & Cabal, C. (2001). Factors associated with business and family success: A comparison of single manager and dual manager family business households. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22(1), 55–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Miettinen, A. (1986). Contributing spouses and the dynamics of entrepreneurial families. In R. Donckels & J. Meijer (Eds.), Women in small business: Focus on Europe (pp. 78–86). Assen: Van Gorcum and Comp.Google Scholar
  57. Ministry of Economic Development. (2007). SME’s in New Zealand: Structure and dynamics. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Economic Development.Google Scholar
  58. Ministry of Women’s Affairs. (2004). Action plan for New Zealand women. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Women’s Affairs.Google Scholar
  59. Minniti, M., Arenius, P., & Langowitz, N. (2004). Global entrepreneurship monitor: 2004 report on women and entrepreneurship. Babson Park, MA: Babson College Center for Women’s Leadership.Google Scholar
  60. Muske, G., & Fitzgerald, M. (2006). A panel study of Copreneurs in business: Who enters, continues, and exits? Family Business Review, 19(3), 193–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Neff-Gurney, J. (1991). Female researchers in male-dominated settings: Implications for short-term versus long-term research. In W. B. Shaffir & R. A. Stebbins (Eds.), Experiencing fieldwork: An inside view of qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  62. Paulin, W. L., Coffey, R. E., & Spaulding, M. E. (1982). Entrepreneurship research: Methods and directions. In C. A. Kent, D. L. Sexton, & K. H. Vesper (Eds.), Encyclopedia of entrepreneurship. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  63. Philbrick, C., & Fitzgerald, M. (2007). Women in business-owning families: Acomparison of roles, responsibilities and predictors of family functionality. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28(4), 618–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Poza, E., & Messer, T. (2001). Spousal leadership and continuity in the family firm. Family Business Review, 14(1), 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rosa, P., & Hamilton, D. (1994). Gender and ownership in UK Small Firms. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 18(3), 11–27.Google Scholar
  66. Segal, G., Borgia, D., & Schoenfeld, J. (2005). The motivation to become an entrepreneur. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 11(1), 42–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shane, S., Kolvereid, L., & Westhead, P. (1991). An exploratory examination of the reasons leading to new firm formation across country and gender. Journal of Business Venturing, 6(6), 431–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sharma, P. (2004). An overview of the field of family business studies: Current status and directions for the future. Family Business Review, 17(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Silverman, D. (1993). Interpreting qualitative data. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  70. Silverman, D. (2000). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  71. Sinclair, A. (2000). Gender = men + women: Why men’s experiences should be part of management studies. Mt. Eliza Business Review, summer/autumn, 9–16.Google Scholar
  72. Smith, C. R. (2000). Managing work and family in small ‘copreneurial’ business: An Australian study. Women in Management Review, 15(5/6), 283–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Stafford, K., Duncan, K., Danes, S., & Winter, M. (1999). A research model of sustainable family businesses. Family Business Review, 12(3), 197–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Stainback, S., & Stainback, W. (1988). Understanding and conducting qualitative research. Dubuque, Iowa: The Council for Exceptional Children.Google Scholar
  75. Statistics New Zealand. (2001). 2001 census: Population and dwellings statistics. Wellington: Author.Google Scholar
  76. Statistics New Zealand. (2007). Hot off the press: Gross domestic product: June 2007 quarter. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand.Google Scholar
  77. Statistics New Zealand. (2008). Age-sex pyramids 1951–2061. Retrieved Jan 7, 2008, from
  78. Stevenson, L. A. (1990). Some methodological problems associated with researching women entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Ethics, 9, 439–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Stewart, C. C., & Danes, S. M. (2001). Inclusion and control in resort family businesses: A developmental approach to conflict. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 22(3), 293–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Still, L. V., & Soutar, G. N. (2001, December). Generational and gender differences in the start-up goals and later satisfaction of small business proprietors. Paper presented at the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), Auckland, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  81. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  82. Van Auken, H. E., & Werbel, J. (2006). Family dynamic and family business financial performance: Spousal commitment. Family Business Review, 19(1), 49–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wheelock, J., & Baines, S. (1998). Dependency or self-reliance? The contradictory case of work in UK small business families. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 19(1), 53–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Winkler, A. E., & Ireland, T. R. (2009). Time spent in household management: Evidence and implications. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30, 293–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, School of BusinessUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations