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What Is the Management Dilemma That Triggers the Research?

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Within the South African restaurant sector of the hospitality industry, spousal business partners, hereafter referred to as copreneurs, are having to face complex combinations of organizational, family, relationship and emotional situations within their family businesses that bare consequences on the success of copreneurial businesses. This dilemma is making it increasingly difficult for copreneurial businesses to remain sustainable, grow, develop further or even remain viable and avoid closure (Dyer, Jr. 1986; Nicolas 2011).


The problem is that copreneurial businesses within the South African restaurant sector of the hospitality industry have an extremely high failure rate due to having to handle, deal and battle with an increasing diversity of challenges and pressures in order to run and maintain successful family business operations but these pressures tend to spill over into the personal relationship (Nicolas 2011:43) and can affect the work, life and relationship balance of copreneurship. SME's in South Africa suffer failure rates of between 70 - 80% and that 80% of all emerging SME's fail within their first five years of operation (Time is now right for entrepreneurs to start and run their own businesses 2006:8). These challenges and pressures are faced by all restaurant sector businesses, but coupled with the additional effects on metaphysical and emotional bonds of copreneurs, can place added pressure on the longevity, sustainability and successful management of copreneurial SME's in this sector of the hospitality industry (Nicolas 2011).

The independent variables affecting copreneurial businesses, specifically those affecting the emotional, private life, professional and relationship perspectives will be investigated further for an understanding of the elements that could influence the dependant variable so that success of the dependant variable becomes more viable.


When reflecting on the international arena of business, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's) are the main driving force and contributor to economic growth, job creation, wealth redistribution and social stability (Kuratko & Hodgetts 2007:5,7).

Internationally, SME's are holding and coordinating the majority of businesses (Scarborough & Zimmerer 2003:21; Stokes & Wilson 2006:11; Time is now right for entrepreneurs to start and run their own businesses 2006:8) and in South Africa, contribute greatest to economic growth, unemployment reduction and are a fundamental and predominant way of doing business(Erwin 2002; Quena 2007:32; Piliso 2006:1; Fletcher, Helienek & Zafirova 2009:354; Sanders & Nee 1996).

Although the experience and rewards of copreneurial businesses, such as financial benefits, flexibility, sustainability, adaptability, high levels of motivation, willingness, trust and spending more time with loved ones are attractive and can enhance a relationship for some couples, for others it may be a recipe for disaster as it can strain relationships severely (Nicolas 2011:43; Fletcher et al 2009).

It is therefore important to investigate this problem so that copreneurs in the restaurant sector of the hospitality industry, and any other industry where copreneurs are or anticipate operating, may be better informed of, and have, a clearer understanding and insight into factors, dynamics or rather independent variable, that influence their copreneurship and success. O'Regan, Hughes, Collins & Tucker (2010) revealed that copreneurial family businesses placed more focus on survival thinking in their business as opposed to strategic, or informed, thinking and action. The Author agrees with the argument of O'Regan et al (2010) that the opposite, or rather strategic thinking, is required when a business is experiencing rapid change or flux, as presented by adverse or challenging times, so that consistency of business operations and competitive advantage can be maintained and preserved. This allows the business to achieve an understanding of the dynamism of the external environment and facilitates dynamic evaluation and response to counter threat impacts.

Threats and risks, if not understood and managed, may have negative effects on copreneurial operations. Without further investigation and insight into the field of copreneurship, copreneurs will continue to face the ongoing challenges and

independent variables, possibly none the wiser, that affect the dependant variable, that being the success of copreneurship. One such prime example of a negative effect is described by the EU Report 2008 where particular note is made of the sacrifices of personal interests and the negative effect that has copreneurs bringing in the importance again of the work, life and relationship balance or managing thereof.

The benefits of this investigation could be far reaching in the field of copreneurship as factors affecting copreneurship are not limited to the restaurant sector of the hospitality industry, but may be generic and applicable across a diverse variety of industries. Copreneurs, pending their own circumstances and independent variables, may be able to take the findings from this research and apply practices within their own copreneurships to better aid their efforts and influence the sustainability, success of longevity of their business, relationships and lives (O'Regan et al 2010; Fletcher et al 2009)

Copreneurs share implicit trust as there's no concern that who you're working with is not aligned to your thinking (Nicolas 2011:46). One benefit of running a business as a married couple, as noted by Nicolas, is that both partners of many copreneurial businesses



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