Several arguments in the field of family business research suggest that human resource management (HRM) practices are one of the fundamental drivers for the success and longevity of family companies (e.g. Astrachan and Kolenko, 1994; Sirmon and Hitt, 2003; Miller et al., 2008; Miller et al., 2009; Astrachan, 2010). Family businesses are often believed to treat their employees with high consideration, building cohesive internal communities and fostering extraordinary motivation and commitment. But how do these attitudes towards employees relate to the so-called ‘high-performance’ human resource management systems that have been increasingly identified as a fundamental driver of competitive advantage by the organization and management literature in the past two decades? And how does the family influence on the business affect the rate of adoption of these HRM systems? Empirical evidence and theoretical reflection on these topics are still relatively scarce in comparison to other themes in the field of family business studies; more extensive research is therefore needed on the way human resource policies and practices are developed in family businesses (Astrachan, 2010).
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