Handbook of Research on Family Business
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Handbook of Research on Family Business

Edited by Panikklos Zata Poutziouris, Kosmas X. Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein

The Handbook of Research on Family Business provides a comprehensive first port of call for those wishing to survey progress in the theory and practice of family business research. In response to the extensive growth of family business as a topic of academic inquiry, the principal objective of the Handbook is to provide an authoritative and scholarly overview of current thinking in this multidisciplinary field.
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Chapter 6: Critical Leader Relationships in Family Firms

Nigel Nicholson and Åsa Björnberg


6 Critical leader relationships in family firms Nigel Nicholson and Åsa Björnberg No man is an island. (John Donne, English poet, 1624) Critical leader relationships (CLRs): a neglected topic In this chapter we introduce a new concept to capture a theme that is neglected in the literature on leadership, yet which is familiar in the field of family business as a phenomenon of great significance: shared leadership. There is no dedicated literature on the subject, and the concept is almost unheard of in non-family firms. Nor is it much discussed in the family business literature, despite the fact that a recent survey found around one in seven US family firms considered themselves to be co-led (Raymond Institute, 2003). Five academic literatures are relevant to the analysis of CLRs: leadership, leader– member exchange (LMX) research, studies of intimate relationships, research into executive boards and top management teams, and the general management practitioner literature. Only in the last of these does one find writing directly bearing on the topic. Our thinking draws on all of these in various ways, as follows. From the leadership literature comes the idea that individual differences in personality dispositions are critical to business performance (Hogan et al., 1994; Miller and Toulouse, 1986) and as a cause of ‘derailment’ or failure (Van Velsor and Leslie, 1995). The literature also underscores the idea that personality effects, often represented as leadership style consequences, are contingent on contextual factors (Conger, 2005). Leader–member exchange theory and research...

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