Families Divided: Culture and Control in Small Family Business

Susan Ainsworth, Julie Wolfram Cox

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    48 Citations (Scopus)


    In this article, we explore the dynamics of control, compliance and resistance using two case studies where 'family' has symbolic, material and ideological significance. While the 'family' metaphor is often invoked to suggest a normative unity and integration in large organizations, we investigate the use of shared understandings of divisions (Parker 1995) and difference, as well as unity and similarity, in constituting organizational culture in two small family-owned firms. Diverging from mainstream family business research, we adopt a critical and interpretative approach that incorporates employee perspectives and explores how forms of control and resistance need to be understood in relation to their local contexts. We also argue that organization studies could benefit from revisiting progressive assumptions that equate developments in forms of organization with forms of organizational control.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1463-1485
    Number of pages23
    JournalOrganization Studies
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2003


    • Control
    • Family
    • Organizational culture
    • Small business

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