Lucrezia Songini (SDA Bocconi) presented Glass Ceiling in Family Smes: The Impact on Firm Managerialization and Performance (with Luca Gnan, Università di Roma Tor Vergata) at Bocconi on Women workshop (November 4, 2011).
Abstract: This paper analyses the role of women in a sample of Italian SMEs, both non family and family owned businesses. We assume that the existence of a glass ceiling implies that women are not in the position to exercise an active role in the company; ownership per se does not assure the elimination of the glass ceiling, while a broader involvement of women in governance and management roles, as we may suppose in family firms, may represent a better situation for removing the glass ceiling. In particular, the paper aims at identifying the impact of the glass ceiling breakage on the enterprise managerial mechanisms and firm financial and competitive performance. We conducted a quantitative deductive design and tested the hypotheses through a questionnaire survey of 313 SMEs in Italy. Findings reveal that family SMEs are a more favourable context for removing the glass ceiling, even though it still remains in top management and governance positions. Results show also that in non family firms, managerial mechanisms, such as strategic planning, budgeting and managerial reporting systems, are more relevant when women are involved in governance and managerial roles. Moreover, only in non family firms the presence of women in corporate governance and top management teams influences positively competitive performance and company growth, while any relationship with company profitability was found. On the contrary, our findings do not outline in family firms neither an active role of women in favouring firm managerialization, nor a positive impact of the glass ceiling removal on firm performance, especially growth and competitive ones.