The Influence of Supervisors on Employee Performance in Family Firms

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Benjamin D. McLarty, James M. Vardaman, and Tim Barnett of Mississippi State University. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Congruence in Exchange: The Influence of Supervisors on Employee Performance in Family Firms,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivation and impact of their research]

Research on family firms predominantly takes place at the firm-level. Findings suggest that family firms prioritize specific non-economic goals labeled socio-emotional wealth, and that emphasizing socio-emotional wealth drives many strategic decisions in family firms. We were motivated to pursue this research because, although we knew socio-emotional wealth affects how family firms behave, we wanted to know how people in family firms behaved. Specifically, we wanted to explore how the importance that supervisors placed on socio-emotional wealth could impact their employees’ job performance as well as employees’ commitment to the family firm. Here, we reasoned that employees could perceive their supervisors differently based on whether they were a member of the family firm, and if they embraced the firm’s socio-emotional wealth goals. When these factors were in congruence, we surmised that employees would translate their commitment to the family firm into greater job performance (both task and citizenship behavior). When they perceived a lack of congruence in their supervisor, we argue that decreased performance would occur based on a reduced sense of genuineness in the social exchange relationship with their supervisor. Our results supported our hypothesizing and demonstrate that employees seek supervisors in family firms who accurately represent their true interests—i.e., if they are family members they should support the family’s goals, if they are not, they should not.

Our research is innovative in that we take a multi-pronged approach and test a three-way interaction to determine how performance will be impacted by commitment, supervisor familial status, and socio-emotional wealth importance all in concert. Testing three-ways effects is less common in family firm research and provides a unique means for understanding how these factors influence the family firm.

We hope that our work encourages future researchers to continue to find ways to examine other factors at the individual level that influences family firm outcomes. Only through the continued pursuit of future research at multiple levels within the family firm can we come to a better understanding of why the family firm is the unique environment that it is.

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This entry was posted in Entrepreneurship by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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