The Family in Family Business

Andrea L. Santiago, De La Salle University,  published “The Family in Family Business: Case of the In-Laws in Philippine Businesses” in the December 2011 issue of Family Business Review. To view other articles in this issue, please click here.

Who is the target audience for this article?

The paper benefits most family members related by blood and by marriage who intend to or are currently working together in a family business.  It challenges them to look at their relationship to determine whether there are explicit or implicit differences in the treatment of family members related by blood as against those related by marriage.

The paper will also help researchers to be more explicit when discussing family  – are in-laws treated as family members?

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I have often been asked as a family business researcher and consultant whether in-laws should be part of the family business.  Many families rely on anecdotes shared by friends as a basis for their decision.  There is simply no published study that carefully explores in-law participation in the family business.  This dearth in material encouraged to pursue the research.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Family relationships is a strong factor that determines whether in-laws should be integrated into the family business.  However, it was discovered that business families are willing to overlook some inadequacies of in-laws during good times but even the most competent in-law can be blamed for poor business performance.  When this happens, this places a permanent strain on the family relationship.

An interesting finding that may be applicable only in the Philippine setting is the difference in the treatment of a sibling of a spouse as against the spouse of a sibling.  The sibling of a spouse may have the same value system coming from one family.  However, the spouse of a sibling may not necessarily share the same values of the family.  Because of this, it is harder to trust the latter than the former.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

This research is expected to stimulate discussion on in-law participation.  The findings may or may not similar in other cultures.

Moreover, this research utilized the grounded theory.  Future research may now focus on a particular theory to determine how in-laws fit in.

Certainly, when researchers discuss “family” in family business they must be more explicit in defining who the family is, instead of simply making readers determine whether the findings also apply to in-laws.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

My interest in family business management has spanned over 20 years.  This particular study of in-law involvement in family business fits very well in my quest to search for answers that makes sense to practitioners.  I am currently exploring other aspects of family business management that hasn’t yet been studied in the Philippines.  I am tying up my interest on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and education with family business.

How did your paper change during the review process?

The review process greatly influenced the final version of the paper.  After each draft I felt I had done all I could to convey my message.  Yet each comment of the reviewer made me realize that I could still improve parts of the paper.  Many times I had to step back and challenge myself to find ways to restate my views.  I don’t think the quality of the work would have improved without the observations and very specific recommendations by the reviewers and editor.  I am grateful that others have taken time to raise the level of the output.

For more information about Family Business Review, please follow this link.

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Manoj Vyas

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