There are several non-economic factors that distinguish family-owned and other privately-owned schools from those with other ownership structures. Owner values are one such structure addressed in a previous post. Another such unique and distinguishing factor is strong emotional engagement. Such schools provide a context in which the family and social group dynamics overlap with those of the school, and create rich and challenging emotional realities.
Owners’ identities are closely tied to their school, and their reputations and social identities are connected directly and inextricably to their school.
Both emotional stress and satisfaction are closely tied to the owners’ engagement, especially when owners are active in governance and/or management of their school. Baron (2008) asserts that “it is now widely accepted that the boundaries between family and the firm are blurred in family business, and that emotions flow back and forth, ultimately affecting how the firm conducts its activities.”
This consultant has observed the role that emotions play in decision-making and in the social dynamics of a school through his involvement with a highly-successful school in Central America, owned jointly by several individuals; each of whom was actively engaged in the school’s governance and operation. The emotional and affective connection between these owners and their school clearly influenced emotions, behaviors, social relationships, communication flow, and decision-making in the school.
Unlike schools owned by entities such as foundations, parent associations, churches, and other entities, in which there is often a regular rotation of key leaders and employees, in privately-owned schools (especially those owned by families), issues cannot be resolved simply by separation and having key figures move on and be replaced. Owners who choose to be active in their schools, are bound together, obliged to deal with the emotional and inter-personal challenges that invariably come, often without the option of moving on to another enterprise.
Family-owned and other privately-owned schools have unique cultures and distinctions, which add to the richness of the non-public school community and the variety of options available in the marketplace. These cultures and distinctives often reflect the essence of the personalities, emotions, and uniqueness of the owners themselves.
©2018 David A. Wells, Ed.D.