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Intergenerational entrepreneurial learning embedded in everyday practice of the family and the business Dr Eleanor Hamilton Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development Lancaster University Management School [email protected] ESRC Research Seminar Series
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Intergenerational entrepreneurial learning embedded in everyday practice of the family and the business
Dr Eleanor Hamilton
Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development
Lancaster University Management School
ESRC Research Seminar Series
Bristol Business School
16 June 2010
2005 a Special Issue of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice published what was understood to be the ‘leading edge of research in entrepreneurial learning’ (Harrison and Leitch, 2005: 361)
Three of the seven articles cite Lave and Wenger (Cope, 2005: 388; Corbett, 2005: 482; Dutta and Crossan, 2005: 33) but there is no discussion developed, either theoretically or empirically, of the situated learning perspective
Corbett (2005) points to large body of research in the field of entrepreneurship led by those taking a cognitive perspective. He underlines its value, but points out that learning in relation to entrepreneurial processes has been neglected and calls for a ‘more fine grained examination of learning’ (p.474).
Founding a business bringing practice to bear
‘And I have to say I didn’t know anything about cheese-making so I got an elderly gentleman who had been a cheese-maker all his life to come in. And he came the first day and showed us exactly what to do and he said ‘‘You do exactly like this tomorrow’’ then he said ‘‘on the third day I’ll come back and show you the next process’’’
The father: ‘I knew how to buy and I knew how to look after subcontractors’
The son: ‘You make your money as much when you buy as when you sell’, and looking after sub-contractors: ‘You support them if they’re worth it to you.’
Childhood and the business – immersed in practice
Brokers daughter recalls the shed in the garden where her parents first ran the business and swivelling on an office chair. She articulates the early days of the practice of being in the office: ‘Answer the phones, draw pictures, tidy up, go for coffee, go for the cake.’
Grocers son remembers being in the shop as soon as he could walk, following his mother and father around. His mother articulates the participation of her children in the day-to-day running of the shop as learning: ‘Yes, I mean we have never taught them anything, they have just watched how we do things.’
The son of the Large Group describes how he worked from an early age in the hardware shop that they lived above: ‘I used to stand on a box behind the counter, I don’t know I was tiny. ‘I had a classic above-the-shop upbringing’
As well as participation within the family business, participation in business or educative contexts can impact on the practice of the family business, concept of transferable learning through participating in inter-related communities
The daughter of the Cheese Makers went on to further education studying food technology and then worked for a large food and drink company, she then instigated practices which allowed the business to supply the big supermarket chains.
The son of the Large Group introduced corporate practice he had learned as a European sales director of a large company to grow the family business he joined.
The son of the Grocers introduced computing systems into the shops, and helped his father introduce new retail technologies having undertaken a computer studies course.
Legitimate Peripheral Participation: coming and going in the family business
Conditions of legitimacy— joining (and leaving) the activity of the business, the nature of participation, how and when it occurs and under what conditions.
Examples: articulating legitimacy
‘they say Mum “you made a mistake there you shouldn\'t do that” and I say “I\'ve been doing this all the time” and they say “no Mum you must do it this way, it\'s amazing what bright ideas you get from the young generation”.’
‘tremendous learning curve for me’
‘small self-employed business, one man band would be a good term, to this conglomerate we’ve got now.’
‘It’s a different ball game. And I tell you when, since legislation came in, directorates, they lost touch. I think shortly after Peter came in, they stopped doing Saturday mornings straight away.’
‘ So you’re less involved so you have less knowledge.’
Cycles of reproduction and transformation: Some things change and some things stay the same
‘Very much an art in the early days, now it has become very technical, a different set of rules, and all the various inspections that one gets now you just couldn’t do what you did.’
‘I hated the first day we sold to a supermarket, I just hated it, I hated it even more when they put it in plastic bags, I couldn’t bear the thought.’
‘I could never run the business the way he ran it. No chance. Because one is, I’d forget. Secondly, it would bore me out of my brain. Thirdly, I wouldn’t do it because I’m lazy and it’s just not my attitude. I’ve got to rely on people…I’ve got to give people freedom and then let them develop and let them go and come.’
‘He’d be absolutely horrified.’
A SITUATED LEARNING PERSPECTIVE
FAMILY BUSINESS AS COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE
EARLY WORK EXPERIENCE IN THE FAMILY BUSINESS
OTHER EARLY WORK EXPERIENCE
CYCLES OF RERODUCTION AND TRANSFORMATION
So how might this study contribute to our understanding of family business?