Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for Family Business
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Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for Family Business

Edited by Alfredo De Massis and Nadine Kammerlander

This timely Handbook provides a comprehensive guide to the methodological challenges of qualitative research in family business. Written by an international, multidisciplinary team of experts in the field, the Handbook provides practical guidance based on the experiences of senior researchers, and features reflective discussion on how to craft insightful, rigorous studies.
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Chapter 15: Treating non-family managers like family: new insights from a re-analysis of pre-existing qualitative interview data

Jennifer E. Jennings, Albert E. James and Elizabeth A. Tetzlaff

Abstract

This research takes a second look at data collected by the second author during his dissertation research to address a recognized gap in family business research: the lack of empirically grounded research on the quality of relationships between owning family members and non-family managers, and the consequences of the relationship quality. In doing so, the authors address three questions that remain in extant literature: (1) What aspect of the relationship between non-family managers and family owners tends to be imbued with especial significance?; (2) How do non-family managers tend to respond to the presence or absence of this aspect in their relationships with owning family members?; and (3) What interactions tend to be perceived as either contributing to or detracting from this salient and influential relational aspect? Their findings point to the significance of ‘family-like relations’ between non-family members and family owners. Their findings also offer insight into the types of interactions with family owners that tend to foster or thwart the development of family-like relations, distinguishing and elaborating instantiations of single critical incidents and recurring small gestures. In sum, their study advances understanding of how the quality of relationships between non-family managers and family owners can be strengthened or diminished, providing scholars with at least suggestive insight into a topic that is of documented concern to the leaders of family firms.

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