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Working for each other: gender, the household and micro-business survival and growth

Baines, S. and Wheelock, Jane (2014) Working for each other: gender, the household and micro-business survival and growth. ISSN 0266-2426

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Jane Wheelock is Reader in Social Policy and Susan Baines is an ESRC Management Research Fellow, both at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to better understanding of the concerns, needs and achievements of the 'business family', which may include a very wide variety of formal and informal relationships between family and business. Some of the results of a study of 200 micro-businesses, defined as businesses with up to nine employees, in the business services in the north-east and the south-east of England are reported here. Although the northern and southern location had very different socio-economic characteristics, patterns of family support for businesses were extremely similar. In both locations, there was extensive family involvement, in particular the involvement of spouses. Family labour could be a vital resource without which a struggling business would fail to survive but the extent of self-exploitation and the sacrifices made by some individuals should not be glossed over. Employment growth was a goal for only one in four of the businesses interviewed. Case study material confirmed survey findings that growth seeking business owners were the most likely to seek out partnerships with non-family members and to participate actively in non-family networks.

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