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Title: An investigation into the contextual factors that influence the identity construction processes of second-generation business family members in mainland China
Author: Jiang, Nan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 0620
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2017
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Private ownership of businesses in mainland China has been permitted since 1981, and family businesses have now entered the stage of transgenerational development. Since the open-door policy in 1978, radical changes to economic systems in the People's Republic of China (PRC) have had a significant impact on the social and family values that structure the interactions of individuals in society. Nevertheless, research has not yet addressed the extent to which western influences, such as the values of capitalism, individualism, equality, and liberal thinking, have become integrated with traditional Chinese values emphasising socialism, collectivism, hierarchy and conservative. Furthermore, little research has investigated how second-generation business family members accept or negotiate these contradictory values and social norms that structure their social identification within family businesses. To address this gap, this thesis presents an in-depth understanding of the contextual factors influencing the identity construction of second-generation business family members in mainland China. My research understands that identity is processual, and its constructions are temporary depending on the contexts, thus becoming multiple. Drawing on literature of family and societal influences on identity negotiation and identity conflict, an operational framework is developed to interpret this temporary, multiple and processual view of identity construction within the context of family business in mainland China. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with fifty second-generation business family members in mainland China. Thematic analysis and content analysis were employed to compare both similar and different features of identity conflict and identity strategies in the respondents, as a result of the influences of various values and norms for social interactions within their family and societal milieu in mainland China. Findings suggest that the influence of traditional Chinese values has different levels of intensity, because other values such as Chinese socialism and western capitalism have moderated or replaced (or in a few instances, enhanced) conservative Confucian values. In addition, western influences may have disrupted traditional Chinese social structure, but alternative social systems have not yet been developed to accommodate these non-traditional values. On one hand, this unique contextual feature of ambiguous values and norms for social interactions in mainland China becomes a source of identity conflict and leads to negative emotions, feelings and reckless behaviours, making it difficult for second-generation business family members to take on independent leadership of the family business or to become entrepreneurial. On the other hand, the existence of alternative values provides a social space for these respondents to negotiate the social identification of their positions within the family businesses. Their identity strategies have embraced creativity and cross-contextual capabilities to blend resources for more socially acceptable role innovation, thus acting as the agent of social changes both inside and outside the family business. A typology is presented conceptualising the nine types of multiple identity construction processes identified among the respondents, in terms of different characteristics of identity conflict and resolving strategies as influenced by the intersection of different family and non-family social structures. These research outcomes have great practical implications for helping practitioners and policy makers to identify the cause of identity conflict in relation to the impact of family structure and social structure, and thus specific means of support can be recommended for different identity types of second-generation business family members in mainland China.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available