Family businesses are critical to the economy and quality of life of over 50% of the world’s population (European Family Businesses, 2012, p.2). Prevalent as they are, scant research exists with regard to the emotional, every day aspects.
This study included people who have participated in a family business for at least 5 years, either in Mexico or the United States. The aim of this thematic analysis study is to highlight the complexities of the psychological–emotional aspects affecting family businesses and to qualify Mexican and United States cultural aspects capable of influencing the operation of family businesses.
Data were generated through semistructured interviews with 12 participants. The analysis produced three core themes. First, in the business and family confluence, the identity of families who own businesses was explored. The main findings were: feelings of pressure to join in family businesses experienced by heirs to these businesses, difficulties in the process of transferring leadership of the businesses, and the concern of families to maintain a positive public image.
Second, relationship issues of family businesses were explored. The main participants found in a family business were identified as the originator, the son/daughter, the spouse, and the trusted employee. An exploration of their roles and how they interacted yielded two themes: conflict and boundaries. Multilayered, complex relationships make for difficult-to-manage dynamics in both business and family. Exploring the boundaries produced a unified systems perspective, suggesting that there is more permeability between subsystems in a family business than traditional approaches imply.
Finally, in the intersection of culture, family, and business, three themes emerged. First, individualism versus collectivism in the family business: U.S. participants experienced family expectations as external demands that reduced their sense of agency. Mexican participants appeared to foster group entrenchment, but with support. Second, levels of affect in interpersonal relationships were high in Mexican families, whereas U.S. participants were more open to discussing issues while keeping greater emotional distance. Third, the power dynamics of U.S. families seemed to be characterized by a challenge to authority; their Mexican counterparts were found to be highly hierarchical and patriarchal dependent.
|Commitee:||Shapiro, Jerold L.|
|School:||California Institute of Integral Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Culture, Emotional dynamics, Family business, Family dynamics, Mexico, Relationships, United States|
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