“It Used to Be a Family Company Until I Joined My Husband in It”: Professionalizing a First-Generation Family Business

“It Used to Be a Family Company Until I Joined My Husband in It”: Professionalizing a First-Generation Family Business

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Abstract

Australians Catherine Harris and her husband David, who both came from family business backgrounds, met around 1970 when they were university students. David had planned to go into his father’s business but decided to go into a new industry – fruit and vegetable retailing – when his father sold the company. David learned the fruit and vegetable business by working gratis for a friend, then started his own firm, Harris Family Farms (HFF), in 1971. During the same time period, Catherine worked for a major retailer to “learn the corporate side” but, in accordance with the norms of the time, left her job when she became pregnant.

She never really left the workforce, working in her mother’s firm, starting her own firm, and having more children. ...

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