Relationships of Family Members Who Work in Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

relationships of family members who work in the same family business, focusing but not restricted to, the conflicts they undergo.

A significant percentage of the private sector is comprised of family business. Family business has its own dynamic propelled by a shared family history, personal values, and intimate knowledge of their own concerns amongst other factors. Given that the family operates harmoniously, they have an ease of communication, which propels their business, but, most importantly, they are unanimously committed to long-term goals and are highly motivated to succeed. The harmonious family imbues the family business with shared objective and vibrancy enabling success. Conflict, on the other hand, has a tendency to creep into the business and, ultimately, dissolve that too. As reverse, conflict, originated by business concerns, can dissolve the harmonious glue of the family structure. It is, therefore, important for both family and business, and, ultimately, for the importance of economic welfare of the nation as a whole that the subject of conflict of family business be investigated so that ideas of conflict solution may be generated.

Potential conflicts in Family business

Family business comprises a significant part of the private economy and this private sector and in the U.S. At least is considered the salient determinant - if successful -- of wealth. Ironically, it is often this same success that can introduce family problems and family problems, in turn, can introduce problems into the business. Problems include envy, nepotism, prioritizing company to family, but the problems go far deeper and may actually start with the founder him-or herself who insists on having his own way, and on running the business according to a set pattern, sometimes favoring some family members in opposition to others. All of this may cause various inter-family rivalries. The father-to-son rivalry may occur where the father is reluctant to relinquish his business to his son, but the son dislikes being kept in an infantile role and seeks increasing responsibility commensurate with his maturity. This may breed for inter-company conflict and is sometimes indicated in scenarios where men, in position of company presidents, are victimized by their fathers who remain chief executive offers of chairman of the board. This may cause guilt where one cannot remove the other and where, if the business fails, one may feel that the other destructed it due to his being stymied of proceeding with his own intentions and plans for business development.

Fatehr -- diaghtter dyads (Dumas, 1989) are siddent yet similar to father-son dyads and may cause similar intra-family and intra-business dissolution.

The brother-brother rivalry is another situation in kind where each brother vies for the favors of the founding father. This may be exacerbated if mothers and wives are involved in the business. This jockeying for power can influence every decision made and can impact all levels of the organization. The operation of the organization has turned into a family conflict. Then you have the scenario of younger bother displacing elder or of female taking position instead of male. All of these different configurations and rivalries cause intrafamily friction that extend to other relatives too and permeate the business (Levinson, 1971).

Some may consider the way out of this morass to be one where the owner or managers of the business place business concerns before that of family but as Barker, Rimmler, and Moreno (2004) discovered with those who prioritize business to family, it is family identity that serves as the key to ensuring business endurance and bottom line success of the business. Ownership signals commitment to the business and, generally, the longer the business has been in existence the more sharpened the feeling of commitment as well s the generational response of the family to the business. And this family commitment is necessary for the business's continuance, but this commitment only comes about when the family realizes that the business is secondary to their own concerns. In line with their observations are thos eof of Morris et al. (1998) who encourage fanily business owners to deveote mrioe time to their family and elss tiem to estabel planign and bsness matteer.s much the same as they wodul dow ith placing cusotemr foremost ebfoer all else. Family failtue signifies business failure and tehfore family msut precede business for the business to continue. On the other hand, conflict may ensure even with family involvement in the business due to the various rivalries as we saw above. Intra-family rivalry may result in business suits and then it is extraordinary difficult for an attorney (specifically the family law attorney) to take the 'family' out of the 'business'. (Randall, Keefer, & Ranson, 2011). The question then becomes: what to do in the situation where family rivalry is intruding into the business.

The Confucian Solution

The Western model explain family conflicts in family business according to their typical explanation of dual-concern model. The Asian perspective provides an alternate approach where in typical Asian way, concern for relationships, family and interpersonal norms, and collective interests are considered. Analyzing the Confucian approach can serve as counterpoint to the Western model as well as giving us some idea about how to possibly resolve negative family dynamics in a Western family-business relationship.

Confucianism defines human relationships according to five cardinal principles. These are: humanity / benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness. There are also five basic relationships: father and son, ruler and ruled, husband and wife, elder and younger brother, and friend. Only the last is equal in position and each has their norms and conventions. Confucianism throughout urges individuals to subsume their self-interests for the sake of harmony of the group.

The three concerns that may also influence choice of strategies in the Chinese family business are concern for interpersonal relationship in general, concern for family and interpersonal norms as prescribed by Confucian code of conduct where even in the context of the family business certain norms (such as child status to parent) apply, and concern for collective interests. These will be involved in settling conflicts in a Chinese family business and the stronger the influence of Confucianism as well as adherence to Confucian code of conduct, the more effect will these strategies have. Variables may interfere, but paradoxically these same Confucian values can both initiate as well as resolve problems that may arise within a Chinese family business. Yan and Sorensin (2004) posit that Western individuals can apply these same values (albeit in a Western framework) to resolution of their own family conflicts)

As the Chinese model shows, family business, incorporating family values, is closely bound up the norms and conventions of the particular country that it is situated in. This is nowhere made more apparent than in the research of Karatas-Ozkan et al. (2011) where they highlight the problems that Turkish women face in operating their family business and how this may plausibly affect their business for good or bad. Life in Turkey is male dominated; so female owner-managers of business have psychological, sociological, and functional limitations in running their business as they wish. This may introduce or exacerbate family conflict and so business and family conflict are intertwined with Turkish women striving valiantly to bridge the two. Some cultures are lucky in that the culture enables them to work towards success of their family business; other family business, particularly those owned or managed by women, are impeded not only by family concerns but these family concerns may be introduced by the culture itself. Even in this case, conflict may, possibly, be worked out by applying the wisdom of the Confucian model to the culture in question and addressing concerns in a humble, synchronous manner, placing family before business.


Family ownership and control are significant factors in a majority of businesses in the U.S.A. (Davis & Stern, 1981), if not on a universal manner. A great number of these privately owned and family-operated business may and do face problems transitioning from the entrepreneurial mold to the professional construct of running their business. This is exacerbated by inter and intra-family conflicts that permeate the business and threaten to destroy it.

Family conflicts are of various forms ranging from father-son rivalry to father-daughter rivalry to brother-brother rivalry with toehr relatives being brought into the equation. Cultural issues, such as those that impede women from succeeding may aggravate the matter. A successful family business needs to be anchored on harmonious family relationships where a democratic system of regulating the business is achieved, rather than one hinging on leadership. The business needs to work as a family 'system', where the stronger the family the more motivated they are to drive the business to succeed and the more willing they are to sacrifice for the good of the business.

The dual criteria for both family and corporate success require special endeavors and attitudes to be put in place. Without these efforts, family conflict may creep into and undermine the working environment of the organization destructing its efficacy. It is towards that end, therefore, that the Confucian…

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