The article is based on the contemporary trend in entrepreneurship research, which stresses context. We deal primarily with the family embeddedness of entrepreneurship, which is easily studied in the case of copreneurial couples, where the link is the tightest. In our article we use the term copreneurs as “romantic” partners involved in the same business. The degree of involvement in the same business is self-defined. In our opinion, this approach is most suited to describing invisible and unofficial roles –it is mostly women who are engaged in business in invisible positions.
The article studies the area of division of responsibilities and roles between work and family spheres. We specifically study discursive practices concerning the division of tasks at home and at work, paying close attention to how those practices are gendered and embedded in cultural settings. Specifically we tried to answer our research question: in what ways do copreneurs utilize specific cultural repertoires in talking about the division of labour in the home and work sphere, and what repertoires, components and tools they choose and what positions the individuals hold in the business and family based on these repertoires.
The described research is based on qualitative in-depth interviews which were focused on the arguments used in negotiating copreneurial division of household/business tasks. Partners were interviewed individually to allow space for potentially supressed voices which could be overlooked in a joint interview. We conducted a total of 21 interviews with 11 entrepreneurial couples in the Slovak Republic. Our theoretical approach is social constructivism: we understand entrepreneurial and gender roles not as something stable but rather as something negotiated, constantly, during social interactions. The concept of cultural repertoire provides a space to study the gendered nature of talking about roles in entrepreneurial couples. We understand cultural repertoires as narrative resources or sets of discursive practices which are drawn upon for each partner’s role at home and in entrepreneurship. We see gender relations as being produced in talking about the division of roles through the rational sorting and optimal matching of tasks to household members and alignment with the roles of husband, wife, man or woman. Cultural repertoires and their gendered nature are embedded in the value orientations and interpretations contained in the studied context, Slovakia in our case. The research reveals five repertoires: traditional, competence-based, responsibility, collective and function-based. It becomes apparent that the repertoires are strongly embedded in the traditional division of roles in Slovakian society. We show the specificity of the Slovakian context as post-socialist country. The research unveils the (also gendered) nature of the element of romantic relationship (partnership), which is specific to copreneurial couples and may justify the gender division as well as compensate for it.