Representations of Family Businesses in Russian Popular Culture
European Journal of Management, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 1-10, 2012
10 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2012 Last revised: 9 May 2012
Date Written: February 22, 2012
Being a significant source of growth, prosperity and welfare, family businesses play a major role for the economies of countries all over the world. It is widely acknowledged that family firms differ from non-family businesses in many aspects, such as financing, organizational structure and human resources. The majority of perceptions of family firms is formed by the family business scholars and owners and illustrates therefore an “insider-perspective”. Despite the increased attention to theoretical and empirical research in family businesses in the last years, the relevance of external images of family firms has been neglected by scholars. Maintaining the ways in which the wider population perceives family firms is significant not only for better understanding the roles of family businesses in society and preserving respectability, but also for attracting the best talents, achieving a sustainable competitive advantage and ensuring the survival of family firms. One of the ways to study external images of family businesses is to examine their portrayals in popular culture.
In this paper we analyze the public perceptions of family businesses in Russia throughout history, using popular culture as a field material. The main reasons for choosing Russian family businesses as objects for the present study are the current low level of knowledge about the development of family firms in Russia and their remarkable historical development. This paper is the first step to close the existing research gap addressing the following research questions: What is the image of modern family businesses in Russian popular culture? How did the political, economic and social changes influence the public perceptions of family firms over the years? Are there any misconceptions about family firms promoted through the mass media?
To answer these research questions, we conduct a qualitative study of Russian fiction and movies before the October Revolution, during the Soviet era and after the fall of the Soviet Union. The theoretical framework of the study is based on the identity-oriented approach. Our study includes a review and content analysis of 9 novels and 10 movies released from 1882 till 2010. The results of the study illustrate that Russian popular culture promotes a one-sided negative image of (family) business. Moreover, there is a significant gap between the self-reflection of family firms and the public perceptions towards them in Russia. The positive characteristics of family businesses are hardly reflected by the general public, and the external image of family firms needs to be urgently improved.
Keywords: Family Business, Russia, Popular Culture, Image, Movies, Fiction
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