Exploring Transgenerational Entrepreneurship in Family Firms
Edited by Kevin Au, Justin B. Craig and K. Ramachandran
Chapter 7: The Deague Family: Learning Entrepreneurship through Osmosis
Justin Craig, Wayne Irava and Ken Moores INTRODUCTION In this chapter, we introduce the idea of learning entrepreneurship by osmosis. Drawing from the experiential learning literature, we feature Australia’s Deague family. Experiential learning suggests that knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences (Kolb 1984). However, in order to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, certain abilities are required. Specifically, the learner must: (i) be willing to be actively involved in the experience; (ii) be able to reflect on the experience; (iii) possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience; and (iv) possess decision-making and problem-solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience. As will be shown, the Deague family, in particular the incumbent leader, David Deague, have intentionally designed their family business structure to address these criteria. Specifically, consistent with Kolb’s experiential learning frame, David Deague has developed a culture within the family that cultivates a willingness to provide opportunities for family members to be actively involved in the business should they wish. He has mentored his offspring in such a way that they are constantly called upon to reflect on their own decisions and on the decisions that they observe being made at all levels of the organization. In this way, family members involved either in operational roles or on the periphery are able to develop analytical skills that can be honed and applied to new situations as they arise. The Deague family has diversified up and down the value...
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