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A Family Affair


  • Esther de Ruijter

    (Arbeid Opleidingen Consult, Westermarkt 4a, 5042 MC Tilburg, The Netherlands,

  • Tanja van der Lippe

    (ICS/Department of Sociology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

  • Werner Raub

    (ICS/Department of Sociology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

  • Jeroen Weesie

    (ICS/Department of Sociology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands)


This study focuses on co-working by intimate partners and other family members in entrepreneurs' businesses. We hypothesize that co-working by family is beneficial because it reduces trust problems associated with employment relations. On the other hand, co-working is risky because co-working family members may lose income from, and their investments in, the business in the case of bankruptcy or, specific to co-working partners, in the case of separation. Using data from the survey Households in the Netherlands 1995 ( N = 137 entrepreneurs), we find that more trust problems, indicated by monitoring problems and one-sided dependence, indeed increase co-working by partners and family. Monitoring problems influence co-working by partners, while one-sided dependence influences co-working by family members. We also find that married partners are more likely to co-work than cohabiting partners. Bankruptcy risks are associated with the likelihood of co-working, although the direction of causality remains unclear for the effects of bankruptcy risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Esther de Ruijter & Tanja van der Lippe & Werner Raub & Jeroen Weesie, 2008. "A Family Affair," Rationality and Society, , vol. 20(2), pages 203-226, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ratsoc:v:20:y:2008:i:2:p:203-226

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