Doing family: the constructed meanings of family in family farms

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This paper examines the meaning of family in family businesses and enriches the notion of ‘familiness’ as a resource conferring competitive advantage to the business. This paper responds to calls for the need to explore further the family as a socially constructed concept. Taking as its focus case studies from five Scottish family farms, it examines the ways in which family is performed and enacted. Emergent findings demonstrate that family is done and displayed through the core business, its diversification activities and embedding practices. Core activities provide scope for family members to negotiate their positions within the family and also demonstrate these outside of the home. Diversification activities are used as a way of extending the boundaries of the family business, providing roles for family and extended family. Family firms are shown to benefit from the wider networks and strong and weak ties of individual family members. Finally, it is shown that the accumulation of these practices can result in a stronger more enduring family businesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date24 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2020


  • family business
  • farming
  • case study
  • embedding
  • diversification
  • familiness


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