The history of family sciences is closely linked to that of business management. Both fields emerged in academia at about the same time, and both began with efforts to facilitate efficient and effective use of resources. Many of the management theories applied to individual and family resource management stem from business management. Many of the human resource theories are supported by research in family science and other social sciences. Business management focuses on planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the use of resources to accomplish performance goals. The goal of any business is the maximization of this process. It is a conscious effort and a constant process. Choices must be made and evaluated continually.
Although the family is not a business, it does have many of the same goals that a business addresses. Management theories are explored from both the business and family conceptual frameworks in Chapter 3. Business decisions generally have a stronger hierarchical base and more tangible factors available in the decision-making process. Most family management activity begins with that same decision-making process, but family management exists on a higher personal level with more emotional, intangible types of factors to consider. The decision-making process is a major concept addressed and explored throughout this text.
THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
There are many ways that individuals and families go about making decisions. Janis (1989) proposes the rational model, presuming that, in the process of making decisions, there are purposeful goals and objectives. Rational decision making involves searching for alternatives, assessing consequences, estimating risk or uncertainty, determining the value of consequences, and selecting the action that maximizes attainment of those desired objectives. Decisions that have long-lasting impact on a family unit would benefit from this type of structure. Selection of educational programs and disease treatment options are often approached within this type of framework.
Pfeffer (1987) proposes another model that draws from rules, procedures, and processes, rather than the effort to maximize values. The bureaucratic model relies on habitual ways of doing things and is appropriate only for low-risk and uncontested decision situations. Although this model is more appropriate for business decisions, there are some frequent, low-risk decisions that must be made by families. Grocery shopping, especially for staple items, often operates this way.
The political model of decision making (Pfeffer, 1987) produces outcomes that are related to the power of individuals within the group. This model recognizes that individuals within the unit may have differing interests and acknowledges that conflict is normal or at least customary. Although decisions made within this model are seldom perfect for all members, the acts of bargaining and compromising result in member support for the final decision. Decisions specific to family relocation are often reached using this approach. Although children are greatly affected by such moves, it is generally more of a negotiation among the adults where power becomes a crucial influence.
Photo 1.1 Technology enhances a family’s search for alternatives.
Realizing that family decision making may be served by any, all, or a combination of these basic models, it is necessary to create a flexible framework for analysis of a variety of individual situations. The five-step decision-making process is the framework chosen for this text. Although family decisions are not always methodical, they follow a general framework of need identification and clarification, identification of alternative resources available, analysis and comparison of those resources, selection and implementation of resources chosen, and post-implementation evaluation. This model also gives the family the tools for rational, bureaucratic, or political thought found in the other decision-making models. By analyzing these steps separately and then synthesizing them as a process, the learner can more fully understand the complexity and occasional unpredictability of family choices and behaviors.
The Decision-Making Process
Recognize existing need(s)
Identify alternatives to fulfill identified needs
Evaluate identified alternatives
Select and implement alternatives
Reflect and evaluate alternative selected
CONTEXTUAL INFLUENCES IN FAMILY RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Families do not exist in a vacuum. Outside influences come into the family environment to change the way the family thinks and behaves. These influences come from history, culture, and the environment.
Throughout history, there have been ideas and circumstances that have influenced the way families manage their resources. New ideologies and ways of thinking have impacted existing family behaviors. New childcare practices, new medical discoveries, and even changing marriage expectations may alter the way a family carries out its functions. Historical events also influence the family. Wars, recessions or depressions, terrorist attacks, and other events all have an impact on families. The most recent national recession and global financial crises have illuminated the vulnerability and the strengths of contemporary family structures in times of economic difficulties. The ultimate impact of unemployment on a dual-earner family unit has been very different than that experienced in earlier recessions where the sole-paycheck adult may have lost all earning potential. Families change as history evolves, reflecting and impacting the larger economic environment.
The history of family resource management has influenced the way a family manages today. The early Greek and Roman cultures left a wealth of information about family management that can be found in the writings of the ancient philosophers. The word economy comes from the ancient Greek oikos nomos, which means house and management. Hesiod (CA. 715 BCE) wrote, “You should embrace work-tasks in their due order, so that your granaries [grain storage] may be full of substance in its season” (Hesiod, 1999). The 13th century Church of England also left a legacy of instruction for management. As the church experienced a reform movement, more clergy were encouraged to speak out on marriage and family issues (Murray, 1987). One of the earliest recorded writings was by Robert Grossesteste, Bishop of Lincoln. This was written for his friend, Countess Margaret of Lincoln, after the death of her husband to help her manage his vast estate. He wrote,
And with the money from your corn, from your rents, and from the issues of pleas in your courts, and from your stock, arrange the expenses of your kitchen and your wines and your wardrobe and the wages of servants, and subtract your stock.” (Henley, Lamond, Cunningham, & Grosseteste, 1890)
In contemporary terms, he was suggesting how this new widow might balance her budget—income and expenses.
By the end of the 20th century, the world was changing at a rapid pace. Social mobility and invention would change the way many families managed. Although the Western family was still patriarchal, the Industrial Revolution forced men and women to move into different spheres of influence. Men gave their energies to their work, now outside the home, whereas women gained more power over the household. Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management (cited in Hughes, 2006) sold thousands of copies in England. Her ideas have been compared to modern small business management techniques. According to Mrs. Beeton, good management included setting an example for and giving clear guidance to the staff, controlling the finances, and applying the benefits of order and method in all management activities (Wensley, 1996).
In the United States, another reference during this time was Beecher’s (1869) The American Woman’s Home. This volume was written as a training manual for women in the duties of the home in the same fashion as training for other trades at that time. According to Beecher, a woman’s profession included
care and nursing of the body in the critical periods of infancy and sickness, the training of the human mind in the most impressionable period of childhood, the instruction and control of servants, and most of the government and economies of the family state. (p. 14)
The influences of science (ecology and biology) and technology (invention) in the home precipitated the Lake Placid Conferences in 1899 and 1909. The discipline of home economics or domestic science was developed as a result of these conferences.
Since the early 1900s, many changes have taken place in living conditions, equipment, and values and standards. During this time, the development of management also changed. The way in which today’s egalitarian family acquires and uses resources is radically different than in previous decades.
The resources that are available for use also influence family management. Some families may have a limited amount of resources available because of their geographic location or economic status. The needs of a family may not be met because necessary resources are not available. In other cases, if a resource is limited, the family may have to pay more to get that resource than if it were plentiful. The availability and accessibility of resources greatly influence how they are used. These factors also influence how resources are managed. More discussion about how resources influence family management can be found in Unit III.
When Uncle Sam Calls
What impact does military deployment of a parent have on a family? The United States has fought many wars in the past, but the most recent efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have disrupted families in ways that were not typical in past deployments. The majority of soldiers did not come through a draft of young men. In the Vietnam and Korean Wars, the average soldier spent less than a year overseas and was a young recruit or draftee. In Iraq, much of the burden has fallen on older reservists, National Guardsmen—family men and women (Skipp, Ephron, & Hastings, 2006). As the recent war winds down and deployed family members return home, the Arrendos’ experience will be common across the nation.
Photo 1.2 Family members serving in the military leave more than emotional voids behind them.
The Arrendos (name changed for privacy) agreed to share their experience with our readers. Kathy and Mike were young professionals with two small children, ages 2 and 3, when Mike was called to duty. Kathy shares how her needs and resources changed during the course of her husband’s absence. Payne’s (1998) five resource categorizations are used as a framework for understanding.
My husband’s income increased through deployment. He made more money as a major than he was making as a civilian. Our expenses changed, also, with his absence. He was not spending money and was no longer part of the budget for food, clothing, gasoline, and entertainment. I continued to work, and with both of our incomes and this decreased spending, we were able to accumulate a large savings account.
This situation is much different than in previous wars, when young men entered the service at much lower pay rates and, if married, their wives were usually not professional, career women, so money was often tight for those military families. Kathy shared her discomfort initially in this situation.
I met many military wives in a support group. They were in similar economic situations and their spending was unbelievable. I think I tried hard not to increase spending with our savings goal in mind. Some spending, I believe, is tied to emotions. When I was feeling angry about our situation, I spent money. As the savings account grew, I relaxed a little and spent a little more on myself—haircuts, dining out, clothing, and makeup. Other wives were remodeling their entire homes, buying new homes, and getting new vehicles. When my husband returned, we went on a bit of a spending spree, and we don’t feel the same financial pressures we did before we accumulated the savings account.
Not all military families experience such increased financial resources. However, without the draft, enlistment demands have changed the level of incentives currently offered.
The post Social Psychology appeared first on superioressaypapers.