A Reflection by David Jiang on “More Than Meets the Eye”

[We’re pleased to welcome authors David S. Jiang of Georgia Southern University, Franz W. Kellermans of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Timothy P. Munyon of the  University of Tennessee, and M. Lane Morris of the University of Tennessee. They recently published an article in the Family Business Review entitled “More Than Meets the Eye: A Review and Future Directions for the Social Psychology of Socioemotional Wealth,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Jiang reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

fbra_30_2.coverThis research is based on the first author’s dissertation, which is a winner of the Family Firm Institute’s 2017 Best Dissertation Award. The article reviews 421 papers published across 25 journals during the past decade to propose new directions for the social psychology of socioemotional wealth (SEW), which is a popular concept and theoretical perspective in the family business literature that deals with the nonpecuniary benefits that family members derive from control over their family firm.

What motivated you to pursue this research?
SEW research has helped significantly advance the family business literature since Luis Gomez-Mejia and colleagues first introduced SEW in 2007. However, although SEW research has already done a lot for the literature, we also believe that it can do so much more. Motivated by these beliefs, we originally spent 2 years (2014-2015) in the review process at the Academy of Management Review (AMR) trying to outline the emotional aspects of SEW, only to have our work rejected in the last round on a split editorial team decision. After this rejection, we realized that what we really needed to do was review the SEW literature in ways that would first establish a foundation to understand the many psychological phenomena that fit within SEW research. This is why we are thrilled to have our work on this subject published in Family Business Review (FBR) – a high-quality outlet that can help further the psychological understanding of various SEW phenomena and outcomes.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research?
We think that the most challenging aspects probably came from the review process. We were trying to say something that was connected to but very different from what existing SEW research has already said and/or done. Naturally, it’s often difficult to seamlessly communicate novel ideas in ways that reviewers will immediately understand with a first draft. Recognizing this, after we received feedback from the first round of FBR reviews, we realized that we had to extensively change our analytical strategy and approach in order to be as comprehensive as possible. This way, we could address the reviewers’ many concerns while still maintaining our core message and contributions. Although our original submission to FBR reviewed 41 SEW articles, as can be seen in the published article, our final sample included 421 articles. Altogether, it was extremely challenging to increase the review’s scope by more than ten-fold in a 3-month revision window! Needless to say, the first author spent a lot of late nights culling through the expansive SEW literature to create an action plan that utilized the authorship team’s collective strengths and expertise.

How do you think your research will impact the field?
It is difficult to tell at first but we hope that our article will ultimately help build stronger family firm microfoundations. We think there are a lot of novel directions that SEW and broader family firm research could go from here and hope that other scholars will agree and join us in these pursuits!

 

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Family Constitution and Business Performance: Moderating Factors

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Rocio Arteaga and Susana Menéndez-Requejo of the University of Oviedo, Spain. They recently published an article in the Family Business Review entitled “Family Constitution and Business Performance: Moderating Factors,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

fbra_30_2.cover

What motivated you to pursue this research?

Family Constitution is a relevant instrument that is used in practice for facilitating the continuity of family businesses. Nevertheless few academic studies have studied Family Protocols, due to the difficulty in obtaining pertinent information at both the aggregate and company levels.

However, Spain is characterized by an above-average implementation of Family Protocols and the prominent development of institutions that are linked to family businesses. The Family Business Institute of Spain (www.iefamiliar.com) is an important international leader regarding initiatives such as the Network of Family Business Chairs that exists throughout the Spanish university system and the Family Business Regional Associations that are present and active in every region in Spain.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

We performed in-depth interviews with expert consultants who specialize in Family Constitutions to grasp primary components of a Family Constitutions. We have also analyzed a unique sample of 530 Spanish family businesses. Half of these firms received financial aid from the government to implement a Family Protocol during 2003-2013.

We present possible explanations to expect a positive relationship between Family Constitutions and future firm performance, primarily linked to its ability to reduce conflicts among family, shareholders and managers. We specifically explore the improvement in monitoring managers and firm professionalization, the improved alignment between firm owners that shareholder agreements entail, and the communication and transparency between family members that Family Constitutions foster.

We expect that this research promotes that business families engage in the complex and lengthy communication and agreements process of Family Constitutions with determination. Even during times of economic crisis, we observed that companies that had implemented a Family Protocol reported higher levels of firm performance growth.

We also expect that this article encourages family firm scholars to develop future studies regarding the topic of Family Constitutions.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

A Family Protocol is the result of a process of communication and agreements among owners of a family business that are collated in a written document that includes a set of rules and procedures for governing family business relationships and is signed and ratified by each family member.
Family Constitutions address the firm history, the future vision of the family firm, include norms and rules for family members regarding their incorporation into the business, succession planning, shareholder agreements (transfer of shares, dividends, firm valuation), and develop power structures in the firm and the family in regard to the company (Board of Directors, Family Council). Protocols improve and channel communication, information (also prior to decision-making) and transparency among family members who are in some manner linked to the firm and guide future generations. Family Constitutions contribute to improving the coexistence and cohesion of family generations that are linked to the firm.

We observe that family businesses that implemented a Family Constitution had significantly improved performance within 2 years after the implementation. This positive relationship between the implementation of a Family Constitution and future firm performance is stronger for firms that had a nonfamily CEO, had multiple family owners, or were controlled by later generations.

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Is It Better to Govern Managers Via Agency or Stewardship?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Albert E. James of Dalhousie University, Canada. James recently published an article in the Family Business Review entitled “Is It Better to Govern Managers via Agency or Stewardship? Examining Asymmetries by Family Versus Nonfamily Affiliation,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, James reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

fbra_30_2.coverThe research is based upon the first author’s dissertation. It is the result of his effort to understand the many different behaviours and outcomes that he witnessed during his 20-year career working as a non-family employee for various family firms—particularly his desire to understand why and how some families’ businesses seem to be more successful than others. It is also the result of a PhD supervisor’s determination to see her student succeed as an academic and her willingness to let him follow his passion and research questions.

The most challenging aspect of this process has been finding the way to tell the story of the research project. What is published here is the result of many re-writes, iterations, and direction changes. It was challenging to adapt concepts and measures to the particularities of the family business field. And it was challenging to make full use of the reviewers’ and editor’s advice. All in all, though, the challenges were an opportunity for a new academic to learn many things about rigorous research and publishing. Without the patient work, extensive knowledge and leadership of the co-authors, none of the challenges would have been overcome.

One of the study’s most surprising findings is the high level of positive work outcomes exhibited by both the family and non-family managers in the sample. Sometimes family business managers—of either type—are portrayed with at least a hint of negativity. Those in our sample, however, tended to score highly on behaviours and attitudes that are normally considered beneficial to organizations (i.e., job performance, organizational identification and affective commitment). As for the anticipated impact of our research, we hope that it will become known for providing empirical evidence that challenges commonly held assumptions regarding the attitudes and behaviours exhibited by non-family versus family managers and the mechanisms by which each group should be governed.

The advice I would give new scholars is to be willing to re-work the story you wanted to tell to your chosen audience. No matter how interesting you believe your research to be, you have to be willing to find the right way to tell the story. You need to tell the story in a way that fits your audience’s conversations. It is not easy to let go of parts of your research that were highly motivational for you. As hard as it is upon a first read, don’t take the reviewer and editor comments personally. Instead, take your time with the comments, let your reactions cool, and then find the nuggets and gems within them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This research started off as a study of non-family manager turnover intentions and became a story of the governance mechanisms used in family businesses. It is important to keep your eye on your end goal. If you can’t tell the entire story this time around, tell what you can, save the rest, add what you learned from the current round, and mix it into your next project.

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The Mind-Set of Editors and Reviewers

Get the latest insight on what editors are looking for in your submitted manuscript! SAGE Publishing is proud to feature the latest editorial from Family Business Review, entitled, “The Mind-Set of Editors and Reviewers.” This editorial is co-authored by James J. Chrisman, Pramodita Sharma and Jess Chua, and is currently free to read for a limited time.

Below, please find an excerpt from the editorial, shedding light on the necessary steps an author must face when preparing a manuscript that stands out:

The formula for getting a manuscript published seems deceptively simple, with an emphasis on deceptively. For family business research, the four-step process starts with authors coming up with interesting research questions, that when addressed, will change scholarly understanding of the motivation, behavior, or performance of family firms. As elaborated in the editorial by Salvato and Aldrich (2012), while there are many sources of inspiration for generating interesting research questions, in professional fields like family business studies, researchers with closer linkages to practice and/or prior literature are better positioned to identify questions that lead to usable knowledge that is not only published but also well-read and cited (cf. Lindblom & Cohen, 1979). Objectives such as simply “getting published” may be more dominant in earlier career stages. Over time, however, most scholars hope to make a difference in the mind-sets of other researchers and ultimately practitioners (Vermeulen, 2007; Zahra & Sharma, 2004). But, this does not always happen.

Click here to read the full article. Don’t forget to sign up to receive email alerts so you never miss the latest research from Family Business Review!

Do Employers Forgive Applicants’ Bad Spelling in Resumes?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Christelle Martin-Lacroux of the University of Grenoble and Alain Lacroux of the University of Toulon. They recently published an article in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly entitled “Do Employers Forgive Applicants’ Bad Spelling in Resumes?,”which is currently free to read through BCQ. From Martin-Lacroux and Lacroux:]

It is now well established that students’ spelling deficiencies are increasing and that this has become a growing concern for employers, whcorrecting-1870721_1280.jpgo now consider correct spelling and grammar as one of the most important skills needed by organizations. Despite the significant amount of time spent on writing at work and employers’ growing dissatisfaction with their employees’ spelling skills, little is known about recruiters’ attribution and decision making when they read application forms with spelling errors. Our paper in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly contributes to fill this gap by describing how spelling mistakes in application forms have a detrimental impact on applicants’ chance to be shortlisted. Our findings rely on an experiment on 536 professional recruiters who had to assess application forms varying in their form (presence or absence of spelling errors) and their content (high or low level of professional experience). We found that spelling errors and work experience have a strong impact on recruiters’ shortlisting decisions. All things being equal, the odds of rejecting an application form were 3.65 times higher when the form was error laden, whereas the odds of rejecting an application form were 2.7 times higher when the form indicated a low level of work experience. Not surprisingly, the recruiter’ spelling ability influence their decision to reject or not an application form from the selection process.  For example, the odds of rejecting an error-laden application form when assessed by a recruiter with weak spelling abilities were two times lower than the odds of rejecting this form when evaluated by a recruiter with strong spelling abilities. We made another interesting finding that applicants need to be aware of: the number of spelling errors did not influence the recruiters’ decision. Application forms can be rejected even with very few spelling errors.

In conclusion, applicants do need to be vigilant about the potential negative impression they make on recruiters with a faulty application form: few spelling errors can be as detrimental as a lack of professional experience!

Please find the full abstract to the article below:

Spelling deficiencies are becoming a growing concern among employers, but few studies have quantified this phenomenon and its impact on recruiters’ choice. This article aims to highlight the relative weight of the form (the spelling skills) in application forms, compared with the content (the level of work experience), in recruiters’ judgment during the selection process. The study asked 536 professional recruiters to evaluate different application forms. The results show that the presence of spelling errors has the same detrimental impact on the chances of being shortlisted as a lack of professional experience, and recruiters’ spelling skills also moderate their judgment.

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Writing With Resonance

jmia_26_1-cover[We’re pleased to welcome Ninna Meier from Copenhagan Business School, and Charlotte Wegener from Aalborg University. Meier and Wegener recently published an article in Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Writing with Resonance.” From Meier and Wegener:]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?
    We started writing about resonance and practicing resonant writing in the spring of 2014. We wanted to understand why some texts have impact and others don’t; why some texts are a pleasure to read, why their messages linger. In short: we wanted to understand resonance as something which may happen between writer, text, and reader.  With writing being the primary mode of dissemination of research results for most academics, we wondered why this important topic was so poorly understood and received so little serious scholarly attention.
  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?
    As we started experimenting with our writing, academic and otherwise, we learnt that this is something you can offer through your writing, but never deliver. We also found valuable lessons in how to write this way from fiction writers.
  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?
    Based on our investigations and experiences we are now breaking grounds for a new research field and writing practice, as this way of writing, which we call Open Writing, in our view is obviously linked to calls for Open Science.

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The Chrysalis Effect: Publication Bias in Management Research

14523043285_2235b0dbb4_zHow well do published management articles represent the broader management research? To say that questionable research practices impact only a few articles ignores the broader, systemic issue effecting management research. According to authors Ernest Hugh O’Boyle Jr., George Christopher Banks, and Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, the high pressure for academics to publish leads many to engage in questionable research, thereby leading the resulting published articles to be biased and unrepresentative. In their article, “The Chrysalis Effect: How Ugly Initial Results Metamorphosize Into Beautiful Articles,” published in Journal of Management, O’Boyle, Banks, and Gonzalez-Mulé delve into the issue of questionable research practices. The abstract for the paper:

The issue of a published literature not representative of the population of research is Current Issue Covermost often discussed in terms of entire studies being suppressed. However, alternative sources of publication bias are questionable research practices (QRPs) that entail post hoc alterations of hypotheses to support data or post hoc alterations of data to support hypotheses. Using general strain theory as an explanatory framework, we outline the means, motives, and opportunities for researchers to better their chances of publication independent of rigor and relevance. We then assess the frequency of QRPs in management research by tracking differences between dissertations and their resulting journal publications. Our primary finding is that from dissertation to journal article, the ratio of supported to unsupported hypotheses more than doubled (0.82 to 1.00 versus 1.94 to 1.00). The rise in predictive accuracy resulted from the dropping of statistically nonsignificant hypotheses, the addition of statistically significant hypotheses, the reversing of predicted direction of hypotheses, and alterations to data. We conclude with recommendations to help mitigate the problem of an unrepresentative literature that we label the “Chrysalis Effect.”

You can read “The Chrysalis Effect: How Ugly Initial Results Metamorphosize Into Beautiful Articles” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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*Library image attributed to Apple Vershoor (CC)