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Business Family Work Strategies

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Examining the economic character of the business household in this manner necessitates the use of in-depth qualitative interviews. It is then possible to examine the relations among different forms of rationality in the business and the family, allowing a more holistic analysis than one founded on the presumption of the maximizing individual. This micro-institutional focus on the household and family context for business contrasts with the conventional interest of small-business research in the "entrepreneurial individual. " The presumption that there may be differences in rationality between business and household also indicates a need to reexamine concepts of risk and insecurity.

Risk estimation may provide the foundation for entrepreneurial behavior, but the risk may also be handled through the creation of postmodern reflexive meaning and identity for other household members. The risk may be an appropriate category for those in the household who concern themselves primarily with the organization of business as capital, but the concept of insecurity may be more appropriate for the household as a supplier of labor. As Polanyi (2006) would see it, the substantive institutional analysis examines the way in which lives and livelihoods interrelate. Maintaining a livelihood involves varying ways of embedding business and household through social and economic relations in the formal and the complementary economy.

Different modes of embedding, we argue, are related to different solutions to risk and insecurity as well as to different business strategies. We prefer to use the term "business family" rather than "family business" to capture the importance of family to business survival and success. Our investigation of this variation is based on a comparison of two sets of contrasting cases. The Norwegian fishing industry is characterized by its dependence on fish inputs, which are subject to extreme uncertainty generated by variability in fish stocks due to bioecological factors, climate, seasonal variations, the interrelation between fish harvesting and biological production, as well as by national and international regulation of the fishing fleet, fish stocks, and fish markets.

At the same time, the Norwegian fishing industry enjoys advantages given by its location close to fishing grounds where valuable and highly prized varieties of fish are caught. This combination of uncertainty and generous natural gifts results in conservatism in terms of technology, products, markets, and organizational solutions.

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