Is it relevant to have a definition about what is family love for family business purposes? What kinds of love can be defined as family love? Are there kinds of love that are not family love? Authors talk so much about family in the family business literature, but it is not clear what we all mean with this concept. It seems that, under the term “family”, we mix completely different types of love, not always as linked to family love as they could be.
Knowing what could be addressed as family love for family business purposes is important, because family love should help us to define who is member of a family and thus, who should be part of the family business in terms of governance. What should we think about partners or “significant others” who are unmarried? What about the kind of marriages that are so called “express” and are not meant to be forever?
Furthermore, comprehending what family love is, should clarify the relativization of different cultures and ways of living. For example, should we understand that women and children in polygamy reflect this kind of love? Could we say that this kind of relationship derives from family love? And what about gay marriage? Does it properly reflect what family love should be? And, if those different types of love are not the same, which of those are really family love? And why?
Even though, there are different kinds of love and relationships that have to be considered for family business purposes, our consideration should not be the same in all cases. There are truly examples of human family love and kinds of love that are less family like or not really family like to be honest. The latter does not help us to develop the family business to its potential, or at least generates some obstacles that impede continuity.
The deep bonds of the family are rooted in the kind of human love that is reflected in marriage. Marriage is the bond of love between a man and a woman, open to new lifes –children- that will develop the family. Marriage is a personal kind of love, in which each person –a man and a woman- accept the other to the fullest, that is to say, in all their capacities, their whole person and their whole life. This kind of love reflects the acceptance and offering of each other for love. This is not a romantic idea but a kind of bond which corresponds to our deep aspirations. Every one of us wants to be loved, and to be loved without restraint or limits, even time limits, as we all want to be loved forever.
Why does this family love -marriage love- thus considered, help develop our family businesses? Marriage love expresses a kind of love that clearly shows the unconditional acceptance and self-giving of spouses; they both offer themselves to a shared family project. Marriage love is in its roots completely open to new people –the children- and widely open to the future. Thus family love, based on marriage love, serves all our projects including family business through the following:
- Unconditional love between spouses generates trust among family members both in family and in business relations
- Feeling the safety of parental love, enables children to develop their capacities to the fullest, with confidence and no fear or limits
- Entrepreneuring finds its right environment in unconditional family love, when spouses or children are themselves involved in business.
- The love for our spouse and/or children gives us great energy and meaning to develop a vision for the future that is personally meaningful.
- The values involved in true family love help us to show piety to our ancestors, our parents, grandparents etc., and inspire us to develop a sense of legacy to honour them.
- Family love deeply appreciates freedom of family members, and thus confronts the temptation of building a cage around our family business.
Finally, family love based on marriage love thus defined, gives us a different vision of the whole family business field. If we put marriage love in the centre, we have to realise there is no singular “family business”, but “family businesses” that evolve to a multiplicity of families and multiplicity of businesses. However, is this really a problem?. No it is not, it is indeed the solution to the “family business” tragic mindset of mortality. The development of family businesses would be tragic if we only consider “one” family, but could be bright if we realise that we are dealing with a multiplicity of families, a family of families, that spread wealth through a plurality of businesses. This enriched vision that derives from family and marriage love, will help academics and consultants to overcome the conceptual limits of the “family business” mortality mindset.
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