Conveniencing the family in agri-based processing enterprise: a grounded theory study of strategic leaders' cultural assumptions and strategising activities

Kanyangale, Macdonald Isaac (2012) Conveniencing the family in agri-based processing enterprise: a grounded theory study of strategic leaders' cultural assumptions and strategising activities. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.




As leaders of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), strategic leaders are responsible for strategising, the approach to which is influenced by their cultural paradigm. The effects of this strategising are manifested in the day-to-day activities of these leaders. This study aims to build an understanding of the shared cultural assumptions of strategic leaders in agri-based processing SMEs and how these assumptions affect the strategising activities that are adopted when addressing critical incidents related to the internal integration and external adaptation of the SME. Using Strauss and Corbin‟s (1990) grounded theory method, this study develops a theory titled Conveniencing the Family in Business, which is induced from critical incidents. A sample of critical incidents was gathered from 44 qualitative interviews conducted with strategic leaders of various agri-based processing SMEs operating in Malawi. This study found that strategic leaders display persistent and stable pragmatic business survival mind sets, but dynamic cultural assumptions about relationships with organisation members. The cultural influence of these assumptions is manifested in two distinctive and alternative processes making up the theory of conveniencing the family in business. These are the humanising and commodifying of relationships with organisation members, and they are evident in hostile and friendly business environments, respectively. Humanising of relationships with all members of the organisation builds and capitalises on inclusive, organisation-wide social capital that secures the future of the business. On the other hand, commodifying of relationships with non-family organisation members weakens collective support, which becomes mainly dependent on family and friendship ties. Thus, commodifying of relationships serves to perpetuate the close integration of business activity and family requirements to ultimately convenience the family in business, and represents the desired modus operandi of strategic leaders. As strategic leaders of SMEs have not yet conceptualised this, providing them with the conceptual theory developed here may be helpful towards a consistent re-orientation of the internal organisational support in a way that does not exclude but rather harnesses the wider solidarity of organisation members. The process explained by this theory is iterative, dynamic and distinguishes patterns of relationships amongst organisation members, which either enhances or compromises their collective support for the leaders and the enterprise. This by implication affects the performance of the enterprise. The results of this study are discussed from the perspective of social exchange and social capital theory, thereby contributing to the understanding of the strategising activities of strategic leaders, as well as the processes of building or destroying social capital in this type of enterprise.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Small enterprises, Medium enterprises, SMEs, Strategic leaders, Strategy, Culture, Paradigm, Integration, Agri-based, Grounded theory, Critical incidents, Malawi, Relationships, Family, Social capital
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD72 Economic growth, development, planning
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Commerce > Management
Supervisors:Pearse, Noel
ID Code:2962
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:07 Jun 2012 09:52
Last Modified:07 Jun 2012 09:52
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