Call for Chapters: Handbook of Research Methods: Women in Entrepreneurship and Family Business


Edward Elgar Publishing


Professor Helle Neergaard, Aarhus University, Denmark|

Associate Professor Naomi Birdthisle, Griffith University, Australia

Dr. Antoinette Flynn, ADAA, Univesity of Limerick, Ireland

The objective of this book is to open up the discussion of research methods in women’s entrepreneurship and family business. All too often, methodology becomes the forgotten orphan in journal publications, even if it represents the cornerstone of research. If a researcher has been insufficiently rigorous in carrying out the research then the results will suffer (Neergaard and Ulhøi 2007) sometimes to the extent that an article has to be withdrawn. Therefore, we need to be both rigorous and transparent as to how we carry out our research whether quantitative or qualitative. This book provides such a window of transparency into the considerations and choices underlying the findings of current research in women’s entrepreneurship and family business.

Methodological considerations

Whilst it would be wrong to suggest that research on women, whether entrepreneurs or not, is naturally qualitative, many researchers point to the appropriateness of qualitative methods for the study of gender (Henry et al., 2016).

Qualitative and quantitative methods are of unequal prestige in science though qualitative research is less likely to be published in mainstream journals. This also holds true for entrepreneurship (Neergaard and Ulhøi, 2007). Indeed, methodological conformity may be an even stronger requirement when researchers study a non-traditional topic such as gender, and qualitative studies tend to be more likely to be published in gender-oriented journals and less in mainstream field journals. Indeed, a review of the literature reveals that most early papers on women entrepreneurs published in highly ranked entrepreneurship journals were indeed quantitative in nature (Neergaard et al., 2011) and focused on comparing male and female entrepreneurs. According to Henry et al. (2016), a further shortcoming of early research on women’s entrepreneurship is that it is decontextualized and that argument for sampling methods, for example, is lacking.

Moreover, when publishing a traditional journal paper, the section accorded to methodology is often very short; often too short to allow for the elaboration of the research process and too short for explaining in detail qualitative data collection and analysis. We aim to provide a platform where researchers are encouraged to elaborate on their methodological approach and celebrate what they have achieved. We would therefore like potential contributors to look at their existing publications to identify research where the methodology has been of particular interest to themselves, but where they have been prevented to elaborate on this by e.g., page restrictions, and rewrite these as methodology chapters for this book.

Our interest in this handbook is not to be exclusive, we would like to attract both quantitative and qualitative contributions. Our interest is in producing a ‘Handbook’ in the true sense of the word, a publication that can help research practitioners undertake their research in the best possible way. Hence, we are focusing on ‘how to do’ research with high quality exemplars – on showing, not telling. Thus, our call is for papers that take both a purely quantitative or qualitative approach, but also for papers that combine the two.

From a quantitative approach, we invite articles that draw on a range of primary and secondary data sources including survey instruments (Filser et al., 2018); archival data (Chadwick and Dawson, 2018); web-scraped data (Braun et al., 2018); video data (Toraldo, et al., 2018); and experimental data (Stevenson and Josefy, 2019).  In terms of method of analysis, traditional statistical tests are welcome, including the analysis of variance (Anova, Manova), correlations between variables, the linear causal relationships (multiple regression analysis) between the explanatory variables and the response variable and differences within groups and between groups.

We are particularly interested in publishing articles on women entrepreneurs and as founders of family businesses with innovative quantitative approaches, for example but not limited to logit, probit, tobit, Poisson regressions, negative binomial regressions, multinomial logistic regression, multinomial probit analysis (where the response variable is a limited variable, for example a binary gender variable or a categorical gender variable).  Another method we would encourage is conjoint analysis, which permits the study of the decision-making processes of women as founders of family businesses as the decisions are being made, rather than survey responses about decisions they have been made in the past (Lohrke, et al., 2010; Hanisch, and Rau, 2014). Studies that explore the nuances of the influences of women and/or on women in family business through moderation, and mediation are also encouraged (Keele et al., 2015; Shevlin et al., 2015).  Other interesting approaches include research that applies structured equation modeling examining the influence of hidden or latent effects of women in amily business (Astrachan, et al., 2014; Sarstedt, et al., 2014).  Further, there is a range of machine learning methods that may be efficiently applied to big datasets about women members in family businesses, including natural language processing, neural networks and deep learning and ensemble methods (a combination of several predictive models to achieve higher quality predictions) among others (Vuorio and Puumalainen, 2020).

We would also welcome alternatives to the null hypothesis significance tests to analyze data, for example, Bayesian methods.  Indeed, Block et al., (2014) argues that this approach is well suited to family business research due to the variety of family businesses in the population of family firms.  We also invite work that applies meta-analysis to systematically assess the results of previous research to derive general conclusions on women in family businesses (Gonzalez, et al., 2019).  Articles employing bibliometric statistical methods to analyze the recent literature on women in family businesses are also encouraged (Campopiano et al., 2017; López-Fernández, 2016; Ferreira et al., 2019; Ratten et al., 2020).

In terms of qualitative work, we would strongly encourage original research articles invoking both traditional and novel approaches as we acknowledge that many junior and senior scholars researching women entrepreneurs and women in family firms seem to favor qualitative methods. This may be for various reasons, i) qualitative methods are perceived as especially appropriate for studying gender issues and women’s experiences; ii) significant events in women’s lives are subtle and context-bound, which makes them more amenable to qualitative methods; and iii) qualitative methods are thought to make more faithful portraits of women’s experiences and perspectives. Indeed, qualitative approaches enables the capturing of ‘the richness and diversity’ of contexts (Welter 2011:177).

Traditional qualitative methods for collecting data include for example interviews (semi-structured, narratives and life histories) ethnography through observation or participant observation, documents (text analysis and discourse analysis), and focus groups. We are looking to publish articles that adopt innovative methods, which encompass for example creative interviewing of women entrepreneurs and or women members of the family business. Creative interviews are usually treated for analytical purposes as ethnographic encounters, in the sense that the researcher is interested in, and participates in, as well as observes – the interactions involved, the situational dynamics, the surroundings and the physical and non-verbal elements. Creative interviewing involves participants engaging in creative activities like i) drawing; ii) making collages; iii) creating diagrams or iv) taking pictures. Using online data sources also provides opportunity for text and picture analysis. Other opportunities include some form of participatory design or collective creativity with the women subjects e.g. co-creation or co-production and visualization resulting in artefact elicitation. Videography and/or using audiovisual cultural data, produces its research representation in a unique form: as an edited film. And finally, articles using self-reporting and auto-ethnographies for example in the form of collecting reflective diaries or video logs from e.g. training sessions or teaching situations, will be considered.

We should not overlook articles presenting mixed methods research (combining quantitative and qualitative approaches).  For example, fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) analytic technique that uses Boolean algebra to implement principles of comparison to combine case-oriented (qualitative) and variable-oriented quantitative analysis, used to good effect by e.g. Akhmedova et al., (2020).

In addition, we are looking for contributions that involve new groups of women and research that presents as collaborations between researchers and practitioners. Groups that in some way have been under-researched or hard to reach, such as women entrepreneurs or women in family businesses operating in a rural setting, members of the LGBTQI+ community, former prisoners and/or women operating in the informal economies. Moreover, we are looking for research that take context into account, perhaps addressing how to include or research women in contexts where they are hard to identify or access, thus, also answering calls for further contextualization (Welter, 2011). Finally, there is no doubt that the COVID situation has changed the way we do research. For almost a year it has been impossible to do e.g. ethnographic or anthropological fieldwork, and interviews have changed character from being physical to being digital. So, we are interested in knowing more about how COVID potentially affects data collection and analysis?

Planned content

The book will be divided into three major sections, one qualitative, one quantitative and on mixed methods. Alternatively, subject to the themes of the papers submitted, we could have one section on women entrepreneurs and one on women business owners and then have subsections within each. We will attempt to balance contributions on women entrepreneurs/business owners and women as founders and/or members of family businesses.

We are aiming at 16-20 chapters in total, or approximately 500-550 pages. Chapters will have a length of 8.000-10.000 words, including references.

Please submit extended chapter abstracts of circa 1.000-1.500 words to Professor Helle Neergaard at with a copy to Vibeke Vrang If you would like to informally discuss a possible contribution, then please contact Professor Helle Neergaard. Please note that we will ONLY accept proposals for which the data collection has already been completed.

Scheduling details:

  • Chapter proposal abstracts (5 pgs): 15 May 2021
  • Preliminary acceptance: 1 July 2021
  • Chapter drafts deadline: 31 October 2021
  • Reviews and feedback: 1 February 2022
  • Revised chapters: 1 April 2022
  • Feedback: 1 June 2022
  • Full manuscript: 1 August 2022
  • Final delivery date: 31 December 2022

If you want to submit a chapter proposal for consideration, please look at the links below, as these will help uncomplicate matters later in the process.


Akhmedova, A., Cavallotti, R., Marimon, F. and Campopiano, G., 2020. Daughters’ careers in family business: Motivation types and family-specific barriers. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 11.3:1-14.

Astrachan, C.B., Patel, V.K. and Wanzenried, G., 2014. A comparative study of CB-SEM and PLS-SEM for theory development in family firm research. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 5.1:116-128.

Block, J.H., Miller, D. and Wagner, D., 2014. Bayesian methods in family business research. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 5.1:97-104.

Braun, M.T., Kuljanin, G. and DeShon, R.P., 2018. Special considerations for the acquisition and wrangling of big data. Organizational Research Methods, 21.3:633-659.

Campopiano, G., De Massis, A., Rinaldi, F.R. and Sciascia, S., 2017. Women’s involvement in family firms: Progress and challenges for future research. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 8.4:200-212.

Chadwick, I.C. and Dawson, A., 2018. Women leaders and firm performance in family businesses: An examination of financial and nonfinancial outcomes. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 9.4:238-249.

Ferreira, J.J., Fernandes, C.I. and Kraus, S., 2019. Entrepreneurship research: mapping intellectual structures and research trends. Review of Managerial Science, 13.1:181-205.

Filser, M., De Massis, A., Gast, J., Kraus, S.,and Niemand, T. 2018.Tracing the roots of innovativeness in family SMEs: The effect of family functionality and socioemotional wealth. Journal of Product Innovation Management 35.4: 609-628.

Gonzalez, M., Idrobo, J.D. and Taborda, R., 2019. Family firms and financial performance: a meta-regression analysis. Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administración.

Henry, C., Foss, L., and Ahl, H. 2016. Gender and entrepreneurship research: A review of methodological approaches. International Small Business Journal 34.3: 217-241.

Hanisch, D.N. and Rau, S.B., 2014. Application of metric conjoint analysis in family business research. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 5(1), pp.72-84.

Keele, L., Tingley, D. and Yamamoto, T., 2015. Identifying mechanisms behind policy interventions via causal mediation analysis. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 34(4), pp.937-963.

Lohrke, F.T., Holloway, B.B. and Woolley, T.W. 2010. Conjoint analysis in entrepreneurship research: A review and research agenda. Organizational Research Methods, 13(1), pp.16-30.

López-fernández, S. 2016. Entrepreneurship and Family Firm Research: A Bibliometric Analysis of An Emerging Field. Journal of Small Business Management. [Online] 54 (2), 622–639.

Neergaard, H; Frederiksen, SH; Marlow, S 2011. The Emperor’s new Clothes: Rendering a Feminist Theory of Entrepreneurship Visible. Paper presented at ICSB 15-18 June, Stockholm, Sverige

Neergaard, H.; Ulhøi, J.P. 2007. Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Entrepreneurship.  Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 520 pgs

Ratten, V., Manesh, M.F., Pellegrini, M.M. and Dabic, M., 2020. The journal of family business management: a bibliometric analysis. Journal of Family Business Management. Online ahead of print.

Sarstedt, M., Ringle, C.M., Smith, D., Reams, R. and Hair Jr, J.F., 2014. Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM): A useful tool for family business researchers. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 5.1:105-115.

Shevlin, M., Miles, J.N., Kulesza, M., Ewing, B., Shih, R.A., Tucker, J.S. and D’Amico, E.J., 2015. Moderated mediation analysis: An illustration using the association of gender with delinquency and mental health. Journal of Criminal Psychology. 99-123

Stevenson, R.M. and Josefy, M., 2019. Knocking at the gate: The path to publication for entrepreneurship experiments through the lens of gatekeeping theory. Journal of Business Venturing34.2: 242-260.

Toraldo, Maria Laura, Gazi Islam, and Gianluigi Mangia. 2018. Modes of knowing: Video research and the problem of elusive knowledges. Organizational Research Methods 21.2:438-465.

Vuorio, A. and Puumalainen, K., 2020. Entrepreneurial cognition, sustainability and venture performance: a machine learning approach. In Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Welter, F. 2011. Contextualizing entrepreneurship—conceptual challenges and ways forward. Entrepreneurship theory and Practice 35.1:165-184.


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