Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Anthropology of family business (IUAES Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)
Location University Place 3.214
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
The session will discuss: multiple definitions of family business; ethnographic and comparative analyses of family businesses; studies of relationship between family business and community; and the current state and future direction of scholarship concerning family business.
This is part of the Symposium on Enterprise Anthropology organized by the IUAES Commission on Enterprise Anthropology.
This session examines anthropology of family business cross-culturally. Family business is broadly defined as a business firm where two or more extended family members influence the direction of the business through the exercise of kinship-based ties, management roles, or ownership rights. It is estimated, that about 90% of American firms, 95% of Italian firms, 80% of Mexican firms are family-owned. Many of these firms are built and managed by families with specific characteristics in terms of kinship and non-kinship-based network and management styles. The firm's publicly professed values and priorities interact with societal values, community structure and power relations at large. Family firms often involve such issues as the founder legacy, the maintenance of the organizational "tradition", succession struggle, and resource allocation among kin and non-kin stakeholders. The proposed session aims at delineating these and other seminal issues of family firms globally, by soliciting papers that will discuss: multiple definitions of family business; ethnographic and comparative analyses of family businesses; studies of relationship between family business and community; and the current state and future direction of scholarship concerning family business.
Chair: Tomoko Connolly
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Family as Ideology of Business
This paper examines diverse concepts of “family” that are used as part of ideology and legitimization of business firms.
Family owned business is a predominant form of business enterprise in the world. We tend to take family business for granted. This paper examines diverse concepts of "family" that are used as part of ideology and legitimization of business firms. The so-called familism is often deployed by management for justifying hierarchical order, organizational solidarity, community engagement, organizational priorities, and profit-seeking. Examples of family as ideology of business will be drawn largely from cases of East Asian business organizations.
An Insight into Inheritance of Women in Family Enterprises ―a comparative study of China and Japan
Based on the data analysis, this paper will attempt to make a comparative study on the examination of how women are regarded in the succession process of family business in China and Japan.
Differences in ethnic background may influence in the expectations of family business members in a succession process. Many studies have suggested that there are differences in the basic philosophy and underlying assumptions of the family members of different ethnic backgrounds with regards to the way succession is handled. While succession in Japan is usually viewed as foundation for the professionalism of the children and not a priority, in China, on the other hand, succession is viewed as a family legacy and a top priority.
The view of "preference of men to women" in Chinese culture plays a transforming role on social business model. Family enterprises usually carried out the "sons inherit fathers' property" mode. Succession was reserved for the first born son, and then it moved on to any male heir. In traditional Japanese society, women also have been denied a visibly prominent role in the family business.
In recent years the amount of women who are taking over their family firms in China and Japan has become one of the largest trends in family business. While women positively have taken part in the business, they also have faced a series of predicament and conflicts because of their sex characteristic and multiple roles. A comparative examination concerning this situation will be done through the data analysis of two questionnaires done in China and Japan.
Family owned chartered account/audit firms: a case study from Chennai, India
This paper explores and records a medium scale typical family owned Chartered Accountant firm in the city of Chennai, TN, India.
Family businesses are not a rarity in India, right from major business establishments/corporations to small scale businesses, setting up economic establishments had been prevalent from time immemorial. Successes and failures of big family enterprises like that of Ambani's, Tata's, Birla's and several others have been well documented in India. Accounting and Financial Consultant firms is one such business enterprise. Though, independent and major corporations are involved in this, it cannot be ignored that several family owned Chartered Accountant firms are found in Chennai, which is one of the four metropolitan cities in India. These businesses are passed through generations and the whole family (generally men) gets involved in firmly establishing this family trade. Though, they can have great revenues, these chartered accountant firms still hold on to family values and traditions and tend to keep them as privately owned businesses.
This paper explores and records a medium scale typical family owned Chartered Accountant firm in the city of Chennai, India. Areas of study would include the work culture of this firm, the interpersonal dynamics involved, a typical work day, generational values, importance to education, workforce diversity and challenges/competitions they face. Rarely, Anthropologists in India have attempted to study family owned business establishments, hence an anthropological study such as this will shed light on an under explored area of how a medium scale family owned accounting services business in Chennai operates.
The founder legacy and globalization of a Japanese apparel firm
This ethnographic case study examines a Japanese apparel company, Unique Clothing Warehouse (Uniqlo) that has been aggressively expanding its retail operations in European, Asian, American and Russian markets.
The paper first describes the founder's philosophy and the management culture of Uniqlo that was highly successful in the Japanese market. It then outlines the firm's global strategy in Western as well as Asian countries, and investigates Uniqlo's managerial practice in the greater China region (especially in mainland China and Hong Kong) While locally hired employees were expected to attain a higher level of customer satisfaction, and therefore sale and profits, Uniqlo stores failed to train their staff fully, and could not achieve the corporate goals. While the company rigidly adhered to the corporate principles set by Tokyo, the local labor market in China responded negatively particularly to its human resource policies and practices. The top management in China and Japan were cognizant of the gravity of the situation and the worsening reputation of the company, and yet they failed to tackle these issues effectively to reverse the negative situation. This paper describes how the company insisted upon its management principles in the Hong Kong market and how local people reacted negatively to these practices. Understandably, Uniqlo's overseas operations were not profitable until 2006. However, the company's financial performance began to improve in 2008, and by 2010 its operational profits for overseas operations exceeded 6.5 billion yen ($90 million) or four times more than the previous year.
A Case Study of the Customer Relationships of Japanese Family Retail Stores
How have small retail shops (family businesses) survived in Japan? I acted as a long-term participant observer of merchants and customers at four small retail shops. In order for the shops to continue in business, both families and customers are important.
In Japan, many small stores are family businesses. How have these small retail shops endured? Family labour is important for their survival. However, investigations of family businesses were seldom undertaken until 1996. Furthermore, there are few ethnographic studies of Japanese these organizations.
Using participant observation fieldwork, I conducted precisely this sort of investigation of Japanese family businesses. My research question was 'What kind of customer relations are they building'? I conducted my study in Itami City, Hyogo from August 1997 to August 2005 (excluding January 1999-March 2001). I studied four types of stores: those that sold handicrafts, tofu, glasses, and crafts.
For the continuation of retail shops, families and employees as well as customers are important. Small shops have systems to build relationships with customers. The merchant, his wife, child, and employees are connected with their customers in the community. Sometimes, families of the same community are customers of each other's stores.
It is important to build relations with regular customers. A particularly earnest customer, called 'the fan', plays an important role in the small family shop. Fans are people who have long-term, continuous relations with a merchant. He or she comes to the store not only to shop but also to talk with the merchant. The fan gives the merchant presents, such as handmade goods. Visiting the store and talking with the merchant are an essential part of a fan's life.
The changing orientation of the family farm in a Leonese village. Providing for the children in different ways over time.
One orientation of family businesses is to provide a future for the next generation. Based on fieldwork in a Spanish village, I have identified three different projections of the family farm regarding its role in providing for the children’s future over the 20th century and into the beginning of the 21st century.
Family businesses often have a dual orientation of making a living for the present and providing a future of some sort, in the business or elsewhere, for the next generation. It is this second aspect that I will deal with, using Bourdieu's concepts of value, the social field, and the reproduction (or non-reproduction) of the habitus. Based on fieldwork in a Spanish village, I have identified three different projections of the family farm regarding its role in providing for the children's future over the 20th century and into the beginning of the 21st century. Until the 1980s, the family farm, in this area with its system of equal-part inheritance for women and men, provided the nest-egg with which people started their own family farm upon marriage. In the 1980s, the economic situation made emigration difficult and the families began to feel the need to provide jobs on the family farm for young men who were not yet ready or able to marry and become independent farmers. At the turn of the century, these farmers who stayed in the village are using their family farms to provide their children with cultural capital that will enable them to find jobs outside of the village rather than on the farm. Thus, the way these rural families use the family business to position their children as players on the social field is shown to be flexible and to vary according to the perception of the circumstances.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.