Theoretical Perspectives on Family Businesses

Theoretical Perspectives on Family Businesses

Edited by Mattias Nordqvist, Leif Melin, Mattias Waldkirch and Gershon Kumeto

Family business has become an increasingly studied field over the last decade and forms one of the fastest growing research areas today. The uniqueness of family businesses is the interaction between two systems; the family and the business systems, leading to specific characteristics that we rarely see in other types of businesses. In order to understand the interaction between the family and the business systems, researchers have adopted a diverse range of theories from different fields. The contributors provide a thorough discussion of thirteen theoretical perspectives that have been used in family business research to a varying degree. Each chapter introduces a theory, demonstrates its previous application in family business research and offers compelling ideas for future research that could contribute to both the family business field and the original theory behind it. This book aims to spark new insights for researchers and PhD students in the field of family business, and is also a good introduction for researchers who are new to the field.

Chapter 8: Social identity theory and the family business

Matthias Waldkirch

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, family business, organisational behaviour, organisation studies


Social identity theory has given one of the most compelling answers to the question ‘who am I’ by linking identity to membership in social groups. After its adoption to organisational studies, where it has been used to understand, explain and forecast group behaviour, social identity theory has recently been adapted to family business research. After shortly briefly introducing social identity theory and its development, the chapter reviews how the theory has been used in family business research. As social identity theory in family business research has not been used to its fullest potential, the chapter then outlines several ways through which new insights into issues such as succession, non-family management and ownership could be created. In the conclusion, the chapter suggests a possible methodology for capturing social identity processes and proposes how family business research could offer new insights into social identity. Keywords: social identity, identity boundaries, prototyping, self-categorizsation, non-family management, ownership

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