Get access

Help One Another, Use One Another: Toward an Anthropology of Family Business


  • Alex Stewart

    Corresponding author
    1. Alex Stewart is the Coleman Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurship at the College of Business Administration at Marquette University.
    Search for more papers by this author

*Please send all correspondence to: Alex Stewart, College of Business Administration, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881. email:


Anthropological kinship theory is explored for potential contributions to a theory of family business. This article considers the costs and benefits of a role for kinship in business. Both derive from the discrepancy between the normative orders of kinship and markets; respectively, long-term generalized reciprocity and short-term balanced reciprocity. Because the former reflects the morality of society as a whole, kinship integrates social fields more readily than more specialized orders like markets.