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The Pros and Cons of Running a Family Business


Write an essay of approximately referring to the three different texts provided. You may use additional texts to support your answer.


Task 1: Some people think the best way to run a business is to avoid involving all members of the same family e.g., mother/father/children. Do you agree with this statement? (3000 words)


Task 2: Reflect on what you have learned on this module and address some specific steps you will take to ensure you continue improving your academic writing. (600 Words) Consider both views, giving your opinion.


Remember: Use your own words and do not copy from the texts ? Use direct and indirect quotations from the different texts ? Acknowledge the sources in your essay ? Include a ‘List of References’ of the sources you used at the end of your essay ? Write within the word count ? Include an introduction and a conclusion and break down the main body into paragraphs with topic sentences.


Text 1 – Keeping it in the Family Nepotism is defined as the practice of appointing relatives and friends in one's organization to positions for which outsiders might be better qualified. Is nepotism a good or a bad thing? Adam Bellow, in Praise of Nepotism, believes that we are hard-wired to look after our family and friends. He believes that nepotism has produced both positive and negative results in everything from ancient Chinese clans to Renaissance papal lineages and American families like the Gores, Kennedys, and Bushes.


Practised badly or haphazardly, nepotism is embarrassing to everyone, including the recipient, but done well it can benefit society as a whole. In business, no one seems sure how to talk about nepotism or discuss it openly. But what do you do if you find yourself managing the boss’s son? Do you treat them in the same way as everyone else and risk alienating them or annoying your boss? Or do you handle them with kid gloves just in case? Nepotism conflicts so fundamentally with basic American values of egalitarianism and merit that some companies have instituted formal anti-nepotism codes. But even in companies that claim not to tolerate nepotism, there are often clear, if not flagrant examples.


Take Paul Wolfowitz, whose attempts to secure a pay and promotion deal for his partner, Shaha Reza, meant he lost his job at the World Bank. It’s interesting to see the cultural bias at work here, too. Nepotism is considered a good thing in Asian and African companies, which are traditionally based on family networks. In the UK, firms in London have traditionally recruited from families within Britain’s social elite. On a recent BBC radio programme on nepotism, Dr Gillian Evans of Manchester University explained that social and family networks provide a critical safety net for upper middle-class children who might have failed their exams or fluffed their first job. A well-placed contact could smooth over their failure, find them a job, and restore them to their “rightful” place in society.

Task 1: Is Nepotism Good for Business?


This can be very frustrating for those of us who don’t have the luxury of a security net, who have to struggle through with grit and hard work. But is there anything we can do beyond becoming consumed with envy? Is there anything we can learn? I suppose the most positive thing is to start developing a personal network that works for you. There are three things to remember. First, make yourself known to those in power — who you are and what you can do — so that if the big job comes up, your name will be on their minds. Second, build a strong connection with your influential contacts, making sure they like and care for you. Finally, make sure that, if you get the job, you have the skills to make a success of it.


You will have far less margin for error than the boss’s son. What do you feel about nepotism at work? Have you experienced it in a positive or negative way? Or are you experiencing difficulty because you were the one who got a job through someone you knew? Daniel Priest, “Keeping it in the family”, London, Sage Publishing, 2020.


Text 2 – The Advantages of Running a Family Business Greater Incentive to Work Hard One of the possible benefits of running a family business is that family members may work harder than they would if they were working somewhere else. In other words, it could help you ensure the success of your business.


This is because they have a vested interest in the success of that business. Tax Advantages If your family business includes your under-aged children, there can be some tax advantages to hiring them in the business. But you will want to be careful to make sure they are not being paid for work not done. Good documentation is critical.


Furthermore, if you know you will be passing the business on to your children in the event of your death, there are additional effects to consider. You would be wise to consult a lawyer ahead of time to ensure everything is handled properly from the beginning.


You Know What You’re Getting When you involve family membersin the running of a business, you already know what their personalities are as well as their work ethic. You run less risk of hiring someone who interviewed well but then doesn’t perform up to expectations on the job. Shorter Learning Curve Having had family members around your business before you bring them in as an employee can be a bonus. They are most likely to be already familiar with the business, which can decrease the amount of time you need to spend getting them up to speed. What this adds up to is a savings in training costs for your business.

Task 2: Reflection on Academic Writing


Work Schedules Can Be Adjusted Another benefit of running a family business is that you can sometimes cover for each other when the need arises. Let’s say you need to be away for an appointment or a child’s activity at school. Someone else in the family might be more willing to step up and do what is needed while you are away than if it were just another employee.


As a family, you have the ability to cover each other when unforeseen events come up too. More Relaxed Environment As long as there are no major family conflicts, it can be relaxing to work with family over other people. You don’t have to take the time to get to know each other and figure out likes and dislikes because you already know each employee well.


Saves Time and Money When you aren’t hiring outside the family it saves time and money for the business. You don’t have to spend time and money advertising and interviewing. Additionally, as I already mentioned, training time can be decreased. Decision Making Might Be Easier In a family run business there can be less office politics involved. When decisions must be made it can be easier to get the job done than going through the channels of a traditional business.


Sheila Chakroborty, The advantages of running a family business, Journal of Management. 2018. Volume 1. Pages 3-4 Text 3 - The Disadvantages of Running a Family Business Family Can Be Distracting Petty family disagreements can pull your focus away from running your business. It could be harder to concentrate on the details that matter, such as what your customers want or how to improve your products or services when you run a family business.


Hard to Separate Work and Home When you work closely with your family, you may find you bring work home and then take family issues to work with you. If you are having any kind of disagreement with your spouse or family, it can bleed over into your business and drive customers away. Additionally, some people need the separation of work from family. Your Business Could Be More Vulnerable In the event of a divorce, if your spouse works in your business, you could end losing all or part of it during the divorce proceedings. Of course, there are ways to protect yourself and your business.

Text 1 - Nepotism: A Good or Bad Thing?


However, you should carefully consider all of the complications that could arise from running a family business before you involve them in business dealings. They May Break the Rules One of the risks you take in hiring family members in your business is that they may break the rules and think it is ok. It’s possible they might not be doing it consciously. Or, they might do it knowing that since they are family, you are less likely to fire them. Either way, they take advantage of the fact that they aren’t just employees but also family and have special rights other employees don’t have. Causes Hard Feeling with Other Staff There needs to be consequences when family members break the rules.


If not, other staff members could begin to build up resentment. Promotions and raises should be documented and deserved. Infractions should be dealt with just as fairly and swiftly as with other employees. Lack Skills for the Position You may feel you must hire family members to work in the business even if they do not have the right skill set for the job. In direct contrast to saving your business some money by hiring family, this will cost your business both time and money. It could even spell disaster for your family run business and run it into eventual ruin. Too Many Chiefs If your family run business does not clearly define who is in-charge, it could spell disaster. When everyone feels they have equal footing and you have too many bosses and opinions, how do other staff members know who to listen to? What if two different bosses give two different, directly oppositional sets of instructions to another non-family employee? These issues must be ironed out if the family business is to be run successfully.


Negative Feedback Not Taken Well If you have to give out a criticism or correction to a family member, it can cause strife in the workplace of a family run business. Negative job performance feedback can be taken too personally. That could impact the entire family unit since everyone already shares such close emotional ties. In addition, feedback could be dishonest if the family member sharing it is trying not to hurt the receiver’s feelings. Promotions May Be Hard to Get Sometimes when you own and run a family business, you tend to be harder on your family members than other staff. This could cause you to be less likely to give out promotions to family member and more likely to pass them over in favour of other employees. Stale Ideas Agreeing is great, but when you really need a fresh perspective, it can be harder to get when you work closely with family. Because you are all family, you may be more likely to think alike or not speak up for fear of offending someone.


Having some employees who are not family members and listening to their input can help. You can run a family owned business, but keep in mind the pros and cons of running a family business before you decide to make it a reality. A book written by Larry Betchworth, published by Penguin Books in London, 2018

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