Homo Famiglia: A study of the family in and around the organization

Noel Connors, Ray Griffin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper explores the persistence of strong familial connections and the animalistic care for progeny and organizational persistence that happens when organizations are surrounded by family. Across the landscape of organization studies (OS) we encounter homo this and homo that, man the maker, man the rational utility seeker, man the storyteller, man the player; but rarely do we confront homo famiglia. Despite OS’s anthropological roots it broadly ignores the primordial organization of the family, apart from the specialist spaces of family-firms, work-life balance and home- working. The paper draws on inductive research in a large Irish sports body/community; in which family, bloodlines and feudal kin-dom is never far away. So while many point out that men play just like animals (Huizinga, 1949; Kavanagh et al., 2011); man’s organizations are enmeshed and entangled with an unacknowledged kinship. What emerges from the stories goes beyond ownership or interaction; we excavate two distinctions that emerge in the weaving of family and organizational life. Family in organization; and the organization in family impose, inscribing and underwriting burdens, duties and responsibilities for organizational perseverance; a movement that conserves an organizations vernacular ethos, echoing through generations of family and organizational life. Second that family in and around organizations approach the failures, mishaps and contentions that emerge in organizational life with an ethos of care, harmony and recovery. And so, with families enmeshed in club life, these organizations in some way navigate a feudal, pre-modern animalistic form with that of a Weberian or Miseian bureaucracy. As such, this paper is an early attempt to re-establish a connection between kinship and that of contemporary organization studies.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Title of host publicationStanding Conference on Organisational Symbolism
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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