Job Satisfaction: Closer Than You Think In Family Business

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When it comes to job satisfaction, do “family” and “business” seem incompatible to you?

A new study in Family Business Review (FBR) looks at “business embeddedness (family executives’ embeddedness in the family business) and family embeddedness (family executives’ embeddedness in their family)” and  finds they are not as different as you may think.

Dmitry Khanin and Ofir Turel, both of California State University, Fullerton, and Raj V. Mahto of the University of New Mexico published “How to Increase Job Satisfaction and Reduce Turnover Intentions in the Family Firm: The Family–Business Embeddedness Perspective” on May 4, 2012 in FBR. To see more OnlineFirst articles, click here.

Dr. Khanin kindly provided the following responses about the article:

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I have talked to a student that works in the family firm and he told me lots of interesting stories about his family, uncles, cousins, parents and brothers. The stories hinged on how these different individuals ended up working in the family firm. For some, it was an easy decision. For others, it was very hard to take the plunge. I also started asking questions about the incentives to stay, the temptation to leave, etc. It was so interesting. I started talking to my colleagues, they came up with some additional questions, and that’s how it all got started. The rest is history.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Fortunately, there were no major surprises. You don’t necessarily want any surprises coming from the data, you know. It took us a while, though, to write the paper and there were many revisions to satisfy the reviewers and editors – very smart and very demanding people. As usual, it is important to convince others that your arguments make sense and that you have solid evidence to prove it. However, to repeat, there were no major surprises with regard to the findings… Thank God! We were surprised, however, once we started talking to families and digging deeper into the material. The surprises happened before, I guess. And there were many!

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

That’s the hardest prediction to make. We are currently attempting a new study that is influenced by this one. So, we may have influenced our new research. As to other people, you may only hope that somebody likes your ideas so much that they will have an impact on their thinking. Well, this paper suggests a new look on family business. We called it the family-business embeddedness perspective. The main idea is that family and business may not be as different as many people have thought in the past. We hope this idea will take root and perhaps even influence future research but you never know.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

Well, we would probably try to get more horsepower regarding the sample. A larger sample (we had just over 100 responses) would be nice. Also, there are certain things that we now realize could be interesting to measure. But these are all new ideas coming out of this study. This could be our next big thing, knock on the wood!

To learn more about Family Business Review, please follow this link.

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