MARITAL PARTNERS AND
One indicator of interest in couple business-partnerships is the number of books advising couples who work together in partnerships on issues of conflict, division of responsibilities, and time problems that have come out (James and James 1997; Marshack, Scott, and Jaffee 1998), and there is a website, www.couplesatwork.com, sharing information.
Today, with a new entrepreneurial spirit, husbands and wives are going into business together in enterprises springing up all over the country. These include professional legal and medical partnerships, cinema management, music production, book and magazine publishing (Davies 1998), and large-scale businesses such as the $50-million-a-year bakery chain Cinnamons, based in Kansas City (Nelton 1989). From the outsider's perspective, the new husband-wife partnerships can be viewed as prototypical of a new and useful equality between marital partners and other professional partners. Sharon and Frank Barnett (1988), authors of Working Together: Entrepreneurial Couples, have coined the term “copreneurs” for husband-wife partnerships. They point to the benefits that accrue to couples who are similarly and equally engaged in a family business because of the sensitivity each has to the other's work demands, problems, and aspirations. In a work environment in which firm loyalty to employees is decreasing (Epstein et al. 1999; Sennett 1998), many people, among them couples, are deciding to start their own businesses. The number of couples in nonfarm sole proprietorships rose by nearly a quarter of a million—from 257,899 to 482,933 between 1977 and 1985 (the last period for which I could obtain data) (Nelton 1989). No doubt there are substantially more today.
As I noted earlier, family businesses are common among immigrant families although I have not been able to locate research on professional partnerships. Studies of Korean immigrants seem to be most plentiful. They illustrate the issues that successive waves of immigrant couples face who go into business together. A 1996–97 survey of Koreans indicates that 38 percent of employed Korean women worked together with their husbands in small businesses (Min 1998). Other studies of Korean immigrants