The familiar saying "never do business with family" advises against the practices used in many of the chiefdom societies discussed in this chapter. This old saying implies that doing business with family will create conflict, whereas chiefdom societies welcome and encourage such close-knit economic exchanges as a way of preventing conflict. In fact, in an interesting article on family businesses, Bertrand and Schoar comment on how cultures based on strong family ties can have a negative impact on economic development. The reasoning is that the more we are taught to count on our kinship and family ties, the less likely we are to trust those outside our family networks, which greatly prohibits the development of larger economic institutions.
Consider both examples and create an argument for or against mixing business with family. When responding to this question, be sure to engage in cross-cultural comparison, taking into consideration variation in subsistence systems, descent systems, mobility, and any other factors you consider pertinent. Draw examples from the ethnographic record, your own experience, and the experience of others with whom you are familiar.
Doing Business with Family
Family businesses abound in the modern world. They can be massive corporations like that of Wal-Mart (founded by the Walton family) or NewsCorp (owned by the Murdochs) or small businesses - restaurants, real estate companies, retail services, boutiques, hotels, etc. Families typically start businesses as an entrepreneurial effort to provide and sustain for their members. The notion of looking out for family is expressed in similar ways across all cultures and families have conducted and sustained business enterprises for generations all over the world. In some cultures, such businesses are essential dependent upon the socio-cultural setting. But in some instances, family businesses must transform from informal affairs to formal affairs in order to keep up with the demands of management, performance and growth. Nowak & Laird (2010) explained that in foraging societies, family groups and clans are essential as via their composition, they form gender-based division of labor that makes foraging, and hence feeding, their ...
The expert examines Nowak and Laird's applying anthropology.