Succession in Chinese Family-SMEs: A Gendered Analysis of Successor Learning and Development

Michael Mustafa, Carole Elliott, Li Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Due to characteristics such as size, financial constraints and entrepreneurial origins, HRD and learning in SMEs is generally regarded as informal in nature. How SME employees, including those in family SMEs, learn new knowledge and skills is receiving increasing attention. This paper studies learning approaches in Chinese family-SMEs during the succession process. We suggest that founder/owners’ and family-members’ perceptions of gender influence the nature of successors’ learning and firm leadership opportunities by identifying the masculinization/feminization of different learning modes. We argue that many SMEs’ informal nature and owner characteristics may exacerbate negative gendered stereotypes and norms, ultimately affecting women’s leadership learning and legitimacy. The study identifies disruptions to the traditional gendered order as it emerges from women successors’ role and learning in SMEs. This offers a new lens to understand why some family-SMEs might succeed and/or fail in the second generation. © 2019, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The attached document (embargoed until 25/10/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT INTERNATIONAL uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2019

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