Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to study women's entrepreneurship from the family-firm context and radical subjectivist (RS) economics. While women's entrepreneurship is a long-standing topic of research interest, there have been calls for more theory-oriented research and research which takes context factors in women's entrepreneurship seriously. The paper responds to this by using an RS's view of economics as a theoretical lens to consider women's entrepreneurship in family firms.
Design/methodology/approach - The paper briefly reviews the potential of the family-firm context for examining women's entrepreneurship in a non-reductive fashion, then outlines radical subjectivism (RS). The three main elements of RS's "entrepreneurial imagination" are explained, then linked with other theories of family-firm behaviour and applied to casework on women entrepreneurs in family firms.
Findings - Each element of the entrepreneurial imagination, empathy, modularity and self-organization, generates new research questions which contest previous apparently settled views about women entrepreneurs. Protocols for investigating the questions are suggested. The third element, self-organization, while more difficult to operationalize for empirical testing, suggests how women's entrepreneurship might generate new industries.
Research limitations/implications - While this is primarily a conceptual study, its case studies invite further exploration of both women entrepreneurs and family firms. The RS perspective could also increase understanding of shared leadership and innovation in family firms. Specific research questions and protocols for investigating them are offered.
Practical implications - Insights from the research have practical implications for entrepreneurship education, for understanding entrepreneurship at the level of society, the firm and the individual.
Social implications - The importance of both family firms and women entrepreneurs to society makes it important to understand both of them better. The RS perspective can help.
Originality/value - The paper highlights the value of combining attention to entrepreneurial context (family firms) and theory (RS) to reinvigorate some old research questions about women entrepreneurs. The combination of family firms and RS is also novel.