Family Careers Reloaded: Lessons for the 21st Century Workforce
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In the United States, family businesses are at the heart of entrepreneurship, accounting for approximately 59% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 58% of the workforce. Given their overwhelming significance in the economy, few studies have captured the levels of familial influence on the career decisions of those involved in the family business. The dynamic of the familial influence on career decisions and the development of individuals had been researched for 58 years; however, research from a HRD perspective had not been considered, especially with the move towards seeking career development interventions geared toward accomplishing life goals, having purposeful careers, and family development. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand the nature of family career legacies from the personal experiences of family members who sought positions in the family’s business. This study uses a narrative analysis guided by the conceptual framework of career construction theory with a generative lens and the legacy model (an emerging competency model) to understand the career stories of 15 participants from six racially diverse families involved in their family career legacy. Purposeful sampling, semi-structured interviews, and career genograms were used to explore how family career legacies were created, experienced, and maintained, and how the familial influence affected feelings, thoughts, and outlooks toward career decisions. The findings from this study suggested access to role models, a sense of belonging and community, and a desire to continue the family legacy were instrumental in the career decision making of family members. This resulted in a standard process, explained by the legacy model, where major life turning points, thoughts of immortality, and aspirations to provide for future generations initiated a need to become involved in the family business. An individual’s vicarious experience of careers from the perspective of their role models, the development of their career identity, and eagerness to make a greater impact in the community were reasons for involvement in the family business. Results from this study provide knowledge on the development of individuals through the utilization of postmodern career development theory in the setting of family dynamics. The study further implicates an understanding of the factors affecting the career decision making process for the enhancement of the 21st century workforce.
Jackson, Porscha (2014). Family Careers Reloaded: Lessons for the 21st Century Workforce. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from