Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Dixon's Famous Chili: A Woman-Owned, Fourth Generation, Family Business Case study.(Instructor's Note)

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Dixon's Famous Chili: A Woman-Owned, Fourth Generation, Family Business Case study.(Instructor's Note)

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

Dixon's Famous Chili is the oldest, continuously operating, family owned restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. From Dixon's beginning in the early 1900's, women have played pivotal roles, including owners in three out of four generations. The societal pressures and life events that impacted these women and their families are presented to exemplify the struggles women have faced when operating a small business. The case begins and ends in the present day with the current owner facing divorce, raising three school aged children, and having no means of support except the failing family restaurant. Teaching note and references reviewed.

CASE SYNOPSIS

Dixon's Famous Chili is the oldest, continuously operating, family owned restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. From Dixon's beginning in the early 1900's, women have played pivotal roles, including owners in three out of four generations. The societal pressures and life events that impacted these women and their families are presented to exemplify the struggles women have faced when operating a small business. The case begins and ends in the present day with the current owner facing divorce, raising three school aged children, and having no means of support except the failing family restaurant.

The teaching note uses current research on both woman-owned and family-owned small businesses to present a real world context for theory and model application. The teaching note is easily applied to either entry level undergraduate, upper level undergraduate or graduate classes. The teaching note also offers various combinations of theory, models and discussion points to bring the theoretical into a real world context. Practitioners and students enjoy seeing the relevancy of their studies and in turn, the impact of entrepreneurial decisions.

Case studies in both a woman-owned and family business context are increasing, but are still rare. The examples set by the three generations of women in the Dixon's Famous Chili case study are powerful, not only for aspiring women entrepreneurs, but for men as well to understand the dynamics of marriage, family and partnership.

The women, men and families in the Dixon's Famous Chili case faced real world situations that can be seen and understood with the use of entrepreneurial and small business theory providing students a bridge between their course work and their future.

INSTRUCTORS' NOTES

Teaching objective

The Dixon's Famous Chili case covers a wide range of family, woman, and entrepreneurial issues that are addressed below. Due to the issue breadth of this case, the various issues are broken down below. Instructors are then free to choose any combination of discussion areas depending upon the structure of the class and when the Dixon's case is used. The case is designed for an upper level undergraduate or beginning graduate course.

Introduction

Everyone has some sort of experience with restaurants; many students have worked or are still working in food service while in college. For the rest of us, who hasn't eaten out at least once in their lifetime? Given the universality of restaurants, a good way of beginning discussion is on the key success factors for restaurants (Bygrave, 1996):

* Menu

* Quality of service

* Chef

* Atmosphere

* Location

* Quality of food

* Easy access

* Reliable, friendly staff

* Control of costs

* Price

Family Business Structure

Family businesses grow through a life cycle just like any other type of business but this time with the added dynamic of a family. Family businesses move through the following five stages (Gallo, 2002):

1. Family Employment Firm (FEF)--as many family members as can be accommodated are employed in the new endeavor.

2. Family Management Firm (FMF)--family members with formal education move into management roles. …

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