Is virtue its own reward? : exploring philanthropic family foundations and the two faces of altruism

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Located at the nexus of family business and philanthropy research, this study explores the dynamics and influences that combine to shape giving within Philanthropic Family Foundations (PFFs). These under-researched organisations represent one structured vessel through which successful family enterprises can contribute to society beyond the commercial objectives of wealth creation and economic development. Recognising the distinctiveness of their familial roots and commercial genesis, this study argues that PFFs can provide further insights into the relationship between the accumulation and redistribution of privately-held wealth. It therefore seeks to provide greater clarity to extant understanding of family business philanthropy by exploring issues pertaining to the extent to which ‘family’ influences contemporary PFF grant-making; succession and intergenerational transfer; conceptualisations of successful philanthropy; and the motivations underpinning the divestment of privately-held familial wealth.Consistent with the exploratory nature of the study, a qualitative approach underpinned by multiple case studies is used to provide nascent insights into contemporary PFF giving. Indepth, semi-structured interviews with key decision-makers within UK-based PFFs were undertaken. Additionally, secondary data (including, for example: trust deeds, archival documents, internal publications, and press releases) was used to support the development of 14 case studies of UK-based PFFs. This followed an inductive approach, with analysis conducted within and across cases. Subsequently, findings from an extensive cross-case analysis into the dynamics and influences of contemporary PFF grant-making are discussed within this thesis.Accordingly, this study identifies a number of factors that combine to shape contemporary PFF giving, with the influence of ‘family’ and the distinctiveness of this mode of philanthropy emerging in a number of interesting ways. In doing so, it contributes to extant understanding of family enterprise philanthropy, conceptualising PFFs as familial organisations unburdened by the long-term orientation typical of their family business counterparts, resulting in a form of philanthropy that eschews some expected organisational returns in favour of involvement, engagement, learning, and ultimately, emotional alternatives.
Date of Award23 Jul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorEleanor Shaw (Supervisor) & Samuel Mwaura (Supervisor)

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