Evolving family dynamics in the emerging world is a direct precursor to innovations and challenges faced by business organizations. The family dynamics or Indian family structure has undergone fundamental alterations such as dual-career families, nuclear families, single parent or separated or divorced families, a couple living apart because of work commitments, young adults living alone, etc. This has resulted in changing family roles, newer division of labor within the family, alterations in elderly care & child care within the family. This warrants the need for newer technology & innovations to be used for family sustenance & care and also certain alterations in the rules & regulations of business organizations governing the employees. A few examples of technological innovations can be gadgets to remotely monitor the activity of the elderly & children by working couples, automatic & remotely controlled home appliances, changes in rules of paternal leave, paid leave for elderly care, offers of flexitime to name a few. This will impact the business environment as it will open new avenues for start-ups, expansion of business & creation of jobs. The present paper explores these aspects in greater detail.
“A family is a unit of intimate transacting & interdependent persons who share some values, goals, resources & responsibility for decisions as well as have a commitment to one another over time.” (Steinmetz, 1998).
In the postmodern era due to globalization, liberalization & technological advances impacting socio-economic, political & cultural life there has been a profound impact on traditional family patterns worldwide. The traditional family patterns have given way to a new family structure characterized by a multitude of features-working mothers, dual-earner couples, divorced, single parents, remarried & adoptive families & homogeneous families. (Stacey, 1996).
These changes have impacted the relationships, roles & the nature of division of work among the family members leading to new needs & demands giving rise to a plethora of business innovations & changes within the present business set up.
One of the main pillars or relationship within a family are the elderly & since ancient times within the Indian context, their responsibility rests with the family. (Sonawat”,R”,2001).In the present scenario economic necessities have encouraged large scale migration of the working population from rural to urban areas but there is unwillingness to do so by the elderly.(Sonawat”,R”,2001). A 2010 survey by AARP found that 75% of Americans preferred to age in place.
Thus the care of the elderly needs to be managed remotely requiring technological aids & innovations for the same leading to a growing interest & market for already available & maturing technologies to support the physical, emotional, social, mental & physical health of elders. This has led to the emergence of a new field termed as Gerontechnology which aims at using technology effectively for the elderly opening various avenues for newer businesses & start-ups.
A few examples of already available gadgets for monitoring daily activity of elderly are home monitoring system which monitor the timing of inward – outward movement of elders, stove guards to avoid any gas related accidents, GPS shoes keeping patients on defined tracks, Google glass aiding patients to keep on track and identifying persons by stimulating facial recognition, big button remote controls & smart phones.
For medical aid automatic pill dispenser to monitor the medication, interaction & communication tools to connect with health care providers & care givers. Innovations to help in psychological, emotional & physical wellbeing are also required. For example in Singapore the RoboCoach programme has been launched which aids in exercise, listens to voice commands & to a certain extent can tackle problem of social isolation faced by the elderly.
Other areas where extra care is required for the elderly and warrant innovations are designing elderly friendly spaces (Campbell, 2012).This has been further encouraged by the popularity of retirement colonies mushrooming on the outskirts of megacities. They provide recreational, medical, bill payment facilities, interaction with same age people & well equipped independent living. This is another new business venture due to changing family dynamics.
Moreover changes in the rules & regulations of businesses is required as employees having elder care responsibilities seek greater flexibility, paid leave & understanding of their situation by the management.
The status of children in the modern family structure is no different as the role of women or mothers has undergone a drastic change .In the 1950s mothers of 16% children were working outside whereas in the current situation it amounts to 59%.This can be attributed to increase in educational opportunities, higher divorce rates, pursuit of personal happiness & economic independence. (Parasuraman & Greenhaus, 2002). As a result children are spending a great deal of unmonitored time alone requiring technological monitoring & in turn innovations.
Very young children require installation of tracking devices, CCTV cameras, automatic rockers to name a few. For slightly older children understanding the perils of too much screen time parents are actively looking for means to encourage more physical play. This has given rise to fresher business opportunities such as summer camps, organising activities, events, field visits for younger age group as also play groups & child care centers.There is a need to monitor children’s internet activities & television viewing for this several gadgets such as eKavach, Net Nanny which filter out unwanted content from the internet are available and now with newer gadgets more such innovations are required.
Along with elder care & child care maintenance of the home is also very essential. In the present scenario dual career couples are on the rise and it is observed that in these families both the husband & wife play the role of provider and house keeper (Shukla, 1988). More over the review of relations between husband & wife have found change in power allocation in decision making, emancipation of wife & closeness of spouses. (Goode, 1963; Kapadia, 1966).This review indicates that husband & wife today play egalitarian roles. Thus both spouses play an important role within the home and since both have career responsibilities & less of free time automatic gadgets are needed and services to manage their daily requirements such as bill payment, grocery & vegetable shopping, vacation planning, ticket booking “,event planning need to be outsourced.
Also the number of people either living alone or divorced, separated, single parents is also on the rise. They too have the problem of work –family /life balance are hard pressed for time and require the help of automation for the smooth functioning of their daily life.
This scenario provides several ideas for businesses such as online shopping for groceries, vegetables, gifts, clothes, furniture, appliances etc. Delivery of hygienic food is the new requirement leading to a mushrooming of home delivery systems each more efficient & faster than the other. Agencies planning a holiday trip with tickets, hotel bookings, taxis etc. Investment managers who handle taxation & investment of the family, pathology labs providing home visits all these save time and help in efficient running of the house hold.
Automatic home appliances such as remotely controlled air conditioners, washing machines, cooking appliances, automatic roti makers, and vegetable cutters are gaining popularity.
Alterations in business organisations rules and regulations such as provision for paternal care, child care leave, flexitime, crèche within premises, work from home facilities are the need of the hour.
Thus in the emerging world the family structure has undergone a drastic shift and is dependent upon external help and technology for a better quality of life resulting in a plethora of innovations and business ideas in the near future.
- · Bouma”,H (2001), Creating adaptive technological environment, Gerontechnology1:1-3.
- · Campbell K, Flores C.G”,Wright”,D.W”,(2012) Newlywed women’s marital expectations: Lifelong monogamy, Journal of divorce & remarriage”,53(2) 108-125
- · Chaudhary”,B;Kumar”,R (2017) Role of Technology in management of health care of elderly “,Gerontology Geriatric Res 6:391
- · Goode, W.J (1963), World revolution & family patterns, free press of Glencoe.
- · Kapadia, KM (1966) Marriage & family in India, London, and Oxford University press 3rd Ed.
- · Parasuraman S, Greenhaus, J.H (2002″,) Towards reducing some critical gaps in work family research. Human resource management review 12(3) 299-312
- · Shukla, A (1988) Marital role behaviour & marital relationship among single & dual career families, Indian journal of Clinical Psychology”,15″,84-88
- · Sonawat”,R(2001) Understanding families in India: A reflection of societal changes.Psicologia:Teoria e Pesquisa Mai-A
- · Stacey (1996) In the name of the family: Rethinking family values in the postmodern age, Beacon press.
- · Steinmetz, SK (1988) Duty bound: Elder abuse & family care, Newbury park CA: Sage publication.