Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Communication

Major Professor

Jane E. Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Keywords

Familiness, Dialectical relationship theory, Relational currency, Gender, Passion

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the relational contradictions experienced by family business daughters, and to investigate how they responded to these tensions. For this project, I interviewed twelve second and third generation family business daughters from eleven different family businesses. I utilized research procedures similar to grounded theory to analyze my interview transcripts. I examined relational tensions at both a personal level and an organizational level involving the larger work-family system. At a personal level, the connection/separation contradiction is significant to family business daughters and to their relationships with work and family. Many family business daughters helped at the family business because it was a means of emotional connection to family members who work there. Some family business daughters went so far as sacrificing their personal goals for family business goals.

At an organizational level, one advantage of working at a family business was the flexibility it provided family business daughters to respond to family emergencies. Yet ironically, family business daughters were not granted the same accommodations for schedule demands associated with childcare. Family business daughters who were mothers often felt as if they could not be good mothers and productive workers. I explored the gendered basis of these different tensions, particularly as they arise from the ideology of separate spheres and patriarchal assumptions concerning the public-private divide and the assumed separation of family and work. I argue family business daughters have inherited a phenomenal work ethic that makes them successful business women yet they have also inherited the legacy of the founder's sexist attitudes toward motherhood and work.

These sexist attitudes live in the organizational culture, and family business mothers adopt a separate spheres discourse in which they must choose between their work and their family. They address these relational tensions through the strategy of balancing family and work; however, this places family business daughters in a position where they feel as if they have to sacrifice in both the areas. I contend the family business should treat its members as "whole beings" by merging family into work.

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