Socialisation effects on potential inheritors’ career orientation and succession in South Asian family businesses in Scotland
Sheikh, Shariq Zia
The aim of this thesis is to understand the phenomenon of succession among South Asian small family businesses based in Scotland. It explores the reluctance of the younger generation towards choosing family businesses as their careers. The thesis aims to understand the career orientation of potential inheritors leading to succession or a lack of succession by understanding their socialisation process. Thereby it integrates the literatures of family business succession, socialisation and career development. The thesis presents a conceptual framework of the nature/interaction of factors such as personal factors, familial, cultural, those pertaining to the economic environment, education and family business factors, its effects on Career Orientation and choice of Career pathways leading to succession or not among ethnic minority small family enterprises. This is presented in the context of the changing economic, social and cultural environment in which these businesses operate. Research questions focus on understanding the process of socialisation in a dual cultural context i.e. Asian as well as British, its effects on career orientations and most importantly on Asian family business succession. Although family business succession is presented as a widely researched subject area, this thesis particularly highlights the gaps arising due to an understanding that has specifically developed in the past from the founder or incumbent owners’ perspective. This thesis researched from the perspective of the potential inheritor, to understand the process of socialisation and its effects on career orientation leading to succession in Asian family businesses and contributes to fulfilling the theoretical gap in the literature. The focus of the empirical research is the Scotland based Asian community owned small retail businesses that are family owned. Succession is important for continuity and failure to succeed are seen to have adverse effects on the long term inter-generational continuity. At the same time succession among the second generation is looked at as a career choice which is influenced by a career decision making process. Hence a conceptual framework is necessary that looks at the concepts of socialisation, career decision making and succession together. Having the family and business interdependent in this complex system, it is not just the economic environment that shapes these factors, but also the dynamics within the family, society and community pressures, religion, a conflicting multigeneration perspective on business, culture and life in the UK. These demand a qualitative methodology, using personal interviews with both old and young generations and key informants as well as informal conversations with members of the community for sample selection, data collection and theory generation. The data collection process was guided by the newly formulated theoretical framework. Data was categorised as per themes from the framework and coded into categories in order to understand the process of socialisation and career orientation. This was then used to draw out the various career pathways that the individuals selected providing an understanding of reluctance towards joining the family business. The findings revealed that integrating the concepts of socialisation, career development and orientation provided a greater understanding of the process of decision making about succession among potential inheritors from Asian small family businesses. However, a number of other themes emerged from the findings, these are an emphasis on work-life balance as key to decision making. In addition, other themes that emerged were increased desire for paternal bonding, status and prestige from chosen careers, boundedness due to Asian stereotype, and parental or societal pressure and expectations. Moreover, trans-generational entrepreneurial continuity emerged as an important theme in which the older as well as the younger generation realised alternatives to continuing the existing family business and that true succession possibly is the transfer of entrepreneurial skills and abilities, something that the older generation developed and utilised when starting their own businesses as migrants. The thesis makes a contribution to the theoretical understanding of succession among South Asian family businesses. The findings emphasise the understanding of the succession process as a career decision making process particularly when looked at from the potential inheritors’ perspective. It also contributes to the socialisation literature by developing the multi-dimensional understanding of bi-cultural identity formation due to the dual impact of factors such as culture, religion, peers, family and broader society. This thesis also makes recommendations to policy by suggesting a conscious shift in policy orientation from the traditional first generation migrant to the young generation British Asian child of a migrant who due to their different socialisation has unique needs and orientations. The thesis recommends, on the basis of findings, for policy to be sensitive to the needs of the younger generation and for it to be focused on developing self-employment among this new generation of Asians.