Paternalism in Post-Industrial Scottish Family Businesses: The New Consensual Qualities of Total Involvement

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
263 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Zografia Bika, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Simy Joy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
This paper aims to offer a micro-exploration of the evolving concept of paternalism in the Scottish post-industrial family business context that is no longer an exemplar of anachronism, benevolent coercion and corporate welfare programs (health, community, housing and retirement). Today, paternalism only conditionally, voluntarily and subjectively structures the internal flow of family business resources. The primary material used for this study includes a random sample of 30 oral-history interviews with top-ranked Edinburgh family business owners, 6 key-informant interviews and three case-studies of ‘business families’ (19 interviews) selected on the basis of snowballing. The open access to the labour market vested in post-industrial workers is combined with semi-institutionalized efforts of the family business ownership regardless of size, class or sector to limit staff turnover and build ‘family-like’ loyalty through a consensual but also total involvement with their employees’ life. The internal flow of resources from such owners-managers to employees includes a discretionary variety of individualised benefits such as: funeral cost payments, support towards personal hobbies and other aspiration fulfilment, tax bills, discretionary time-off, training, seasonal work experience for employees’ offspring, mortgage payments, scholarship fees, family counselling, ‘no parachuting into senior positions’, higher wages, additional maternity leave allowance, petty-cash lending alongside minority equity offers to staff members. This new paternalism is particularistic and at the same time brings about individualised employee benefits and goodwill without being associated with worker deference, domination and involuntary cooperation. The post-industrial focus of such family business management on the grassroots workings of individual organizations is no longer the structural outcome of incomplete capitalist development or hostile labour relations but rather feeds forward to a wider inter-organizational discourse for the revaluation and redistribution of family trust, care and emotionality in post-industrial business contexts.