A Life Course Approach to the Entrepreneurial Family (Part I)

A Life Course Approach Cornell University
to the Entrepreneurial Family (Part I)

by Phyllis Moen
Cornell University


This paper describes the utility of applying a life course approach to analysis of theentrepreneurial family. A life course viewhighlights the dynamic processes of development and change over the life span,as well as the importance ofthe social contexts of families, businesses, and lives. Both the life course (Elder, 1992, 1995) and ecology of human development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Moen et al., 1995) paradigms underscore the social forces that shape employment–such as starting, stopping, or expanding a business–and their economic, social, and psychological consequences.

A life course perspective challenges traditional ways of investigating the interplay between work and family.For example, instead of considering snap-shots of family businesses at any one point in time, a life course approach focuses on pathways, considering roletransitions, trajectories, and turning points in lives–and family businesses–over time. The life course reflects the interweave ofwork, family, and community roletrajectories that change in conjunction with age,as well as with changing circumstances and options. Thus, an individual life can be characterized as a series of interrelated trajectories through both occupational and family “careers.”In fact, one useful way of depicting the life course is as a series of movements in and out of various roles (Elder, 1992, 1995). More…

The Group Throne

The Group ThroneUMass

by Ira Bryck

Two brothers listened intently to the compelling words of their dear, departing father. “You both worked very hard in our family business. You did your jobs well and you each struggled to show me how you could lead this company one day. Sorry, but I just couldn’t pick one of you above the other. Finally, I’ve made my decision. I want you to both be presidents…Co- Presidents. But listen up: if and when you can’t agree, when you’re in absolute deadlock, call my brother Michael in California. I know you never liked him, but he’s a smart guy. He’ll listen to both sides, and then decide. More…