(RE)PRODUCING SUCCESSFUL SUCCESSION: THE MANAGERIAL LIFE OF KINSHIP IN COLOMBIAN FAMILY BUSINESSES
Saavedra Espinosa, Mariana
In the last two decades, the families that own some of Colombia's largest privately-owned companies have been implementing strategies of corporate governance that seek to rationalize and professionalize business practices in order to prevent the internal disputes that often befall family firms. In addition to standard corporate governance measures like setting up boards of directors and convening shareholders meetings, many business-owning families have also begun applying rule-based structures and procedures to regulate relationships between family members. Following the recommendations of consultants belonging to a newly emerging field of family business expertise, these Colombian business-owning families write out what they refer to as “family protocols,” and gather in “family assemblies,” where they work specifically toward the continuity of their family businesses. Based on twenty months of ethnographic field research among members of such families in Bogotá, Colombia, this dissertation explores how family business governance and the idea of successful succession create bonds of kinship among family shareholders. Specifically, I argue that the procedures of governance and the notions of efficacy that consultant recommendations involve, provide family members with a means to enact family identities that are closely associated with obligations to work. For individuals who are descendants of notable entrepreneurs and understand themselves as having inherited their unique disposition for success, expert-endorsed measures present tangible ways to take family relationships into their own hands. As such, I argue that in this context, kinship is re-created alongside family governance, and not necessarily as a result of it. In other words, it is the idea that family business can be sustained through concerted action, combined with ideologies of genealogy and of expertise, that continue to bring together shareholders to interact as family. Drawing from anthropological accounts that disrupt notions of expertise based on efficacy, this study of the role of expert knowledge in the production of kinship among Colombian business-owning families contributes to the ongoing effort in anthropology to elucidate the contingent constitution of relatedness. In this case, a close engagement with how family business successful succession motivates specific forms of agency presents kinship as an unexpected effect of business expertise. In addition, by presenting the enactment of family as an unintended consequence of the ideas and techniques of consultants rather than as their direct result, the dissertation provides a framework in which to consider a fuller picture of concerted action in the world of business.
Kinship; Cultural anthropology; Colombia; Expertise; Family Businesses
Welker, Marina Andrea; Miyazaki, Hirokazu
Ph. D., Anthropology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis