Consultation and communication in family businesses in Great Britain

Richard I.D. Harris, Renee S. Reid, Rodney McAdam

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Nationally representative data on family businesses are available in the 1998 Workplace Employee Relations Survey, alongside comparable information for other types of firms. We use these data to compare differences in the use of different consultation and communication procedures. We cover such practices as the use of direct communication schemes (e.g. briefings; the provision of information on financial performance to the workforce) as opposed to indirect methods such as the use of joint consultative committees. There is an a priori expectation in the literature that family-owned businesses are either more likely to use direct forms of communication (vis-à-vis indirect forms) or that they will not be involved in direct communication or consultation with their employees, and we test this using multivariate techniques. Finally, we consider whether the type of consultation/communication structure matters in terms of establishment performance, and what differences exist with respect to family-owned businesses. In particular, this paper tests if those firms that consult directly with staff, as opposed to those that consult through joint consultative committees or trade unions, have higher productivity and/or other measures of performance. Concurrently we test whether there are separate 'family business' effects or whether it is generally establishment size that 'matters', by estimating a model for family-owned and non-family-owned establishments. In general, our results show that not only do family-owned establishments have lower levels of communication and consultation, but, when the latter is present, this does not generally translate into greater economic benefits (as is the case in non-family-owned firms).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1424-1444
    Number of pages21
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2004

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2005 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Employee involvement
    • Family-owned firms
    • Performance


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