` Family Firms as Institutions: Cultural reproduction and status maintenance among multicentenary shinise in Kyoto

© Innan Sasaki

Family Firms as Institutions: Cultural reproduction and status maintenance among multicentenary shinise in Kyoto

Shinise are firms that have survived for more than a century (often for three or four), have retained ownership within the family, and focus on traditional lines of business such as sake brewing, confectionery, temple ornaments or textiles. In Japan, Kyoto is the city with the highest proportion of century-old firms which maintain a high social status in the community. While similar firms are also located in other prefectures, the prominent standing that shinise possess in the community of Kyoto confers upon them (and the owning families) distinctive social and economic benefits.

In this lecture, we will explore the socio-cultural processes that shape and allow the maintenance of the high social status of shinise in Kyoto. Our analysis will unlock the ongoing interactions through which the social order is re-enacted and reproduced, ascribing shinise a distinct social standing in exchange for their continued commitment to practices and structures that help the community preserve its cultural integrity and collective identity. By doing so, we will trace a connection between status maintenance and the expressive function that a category of firms performs within a community. At the same time, we will reveal a dark side of high status, by showing how their commitments lock shinise in a position of ‘benign entrapment’ that may impose sacrifices on family members and severe limitations to their personal freedom.

Innan Sasaki is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Lancaster University, UK and also holds an appointment at the University of Turku, Finland. She is interested in how marginalized actors (such as endangered craftspeople, indigenous people and refugees) manage to uphold their traditions and culturally survive. More specifically, her research interests include tradition, history, and time in organizations, organizational culture and institutional theory (with the focus on marginalized actors and legitimacy). She has studied traditional creative industries, with the focus on the survival and revival of craft-based organizations. Her work has received best paper awards and is published in leading peer-reviewed journals.

Davide Ravasi is Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the UCL School of Management, University College London. His research examines interrelations among organizational identity, culture and strategy in times of change, and socio-cognitive processes shaping entrepreneurship, design and innovation. His work has also appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Organization Studies and Journal of Management Studies, among others. He is a co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Organizational Identity.

Free Lecture – booking recommended

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996, email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.



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