It’s All About the Emotions

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Alexandra Bertschi-Michel of the University of Bern, Nadine Kammerlander of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, and Vanessa M. Strike of the University of British Columbia. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Unearthing and Alleviating Emotions in Family Business Successions,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivation and impact of their research.]

In Switzerland, where our cases are located, family businesses increasingly fail to solve their own succession challenges. This leads to the fact that frequently such domestic family businesses providing local jobs are sold to large foreign companies that then often just transfer the family businesses specific knowledge while integrating those into their existing business and closing down the local business areas. These external circumstances motivated us doing research on how family businesses can be supported and guided by an external source of advice throughout the succession process in order that they increasingly find internal solutions.

When then observing five family businesses in their succession processes, we initially focused mostly on technical challenges where an advisor can provide support, such as for example, the initiation of the process, the evaluation for a successor, the training of the successor or eventually, the handover of management and ownership responsibility. However, during the different process stages, repeatedly the emotions of the incumbent and successor emerged as the crucial factor determining how both actors feel and whether they continued the process or got stuck. Thus, we shifted our focus from a pure task oriented study to the emotional aspects laying in between. Thereby, we found that aspects related to emotions affect role adjustment appear of the two actors that ultimately fosters individual-level satisfaction. This encouraged us to further investigate how emotions emerge during the process as well as how they can be guided into a positive direction.

We thereby found that an advisor providing an external perspective plays a crucial role. In particular, the advisor needs at several points during the process to unearth latent emotions in order that both actors even become aware of and openly speak about them. In subsequent step, the advisor then has to engage in alleviating mechanisms in order to calm down the emotional tensions that the process can advance. Thus, this iterative process of emotion unearthing and alleviating speeds up role adjustment and fosters satisfaction.

In our opinion, with our research we address the interdisciplinary fields of both, family business research and psychology. We believe that such interdisciplinary studies hold a lot of potential for future research. Especially in the context of family businesses, emotions and thus aspects from psychology seem to be a driving factor explaining various behaviors and processes within family businesses. Hence we encourage researchers to follow up this study by conducting further studies on emotions and emotional processes in family businesses.

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Rest, Zest, and My Innovative Best: Sleep and Mood as Drivers of Entrepreneurs’ Innovative Behavior

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Amanda J. Williamson of the University of Sheffield, Martina Battisti of the University of Portsmouth, Michael Leatherbee of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and J. Jeffrey Gish of the University of Oregon, Eugene. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Rest, Zest, and My Innovative Best: Sleep and Mood as Drivers of Entrepreneurs’ Innovative Behavior,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly write about the motivation and impact of their research, and speak about their research in a short video abstract.


What motivated you to pursue this research?

We noticed that sleep is commonly undervalued by early-stage entrepreneurs, and realized that we know very little about what impact poor sleep quality has on entrepreneurially-relevant outcomes.

While the quality of our sleep is broadly declining, entrepreneurs in particular are under pressure to be “on” constantly. Recent studies indicate that early stage entrepreneurs feel that they need to be contactable and to work long hours in order to perform. Adding insult to injury, we noticed that entrepreneurial camps are often designed in a manner that encourage poor sleep, and that our media often celebrate poorly rested entrepreneurs as dedicated heroes.

This worried us, as evidence indicates that poor sleep can be dangerous. The long-term effects of poor sleep are evident in terms of our personal health, and the short-term effects are noticeable for our cognitive functioning. We started to wonder whether poor sleep could therefore be harmful for start-up performance, and if so, whether we might find an entrepreneurially motivated reason for entrepreneurs to prioritize their sleep. As innovative behavior is at the heart of effectively creating a venture, we thought it would be a great place to start exploring this topic empirically.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

We felt that the time was right for this research. While there is a growing interest in entrepreneurial well-being, entrepreneurial sleep has received limited attention to date. We hoped our research could help trigger an emerging conversation and provide empirical evidence on the important role that sleep plays for entrepreneurial wellbeing and entrepreneurship more generally.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

To date, only a handful of studies have explored sleep in the context of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behavior, thus we have barely scratched the surface on what could be a very promising line of research in the field. We encourage scholars to explore the topic further. Some of the many questions that remain open include:
1. What role do naps have on entrepreneurs’ performance?
2. What influence do circadian rhythms have on the dynamics of entrepreneurial teams and daily fluctuations in entrepreneurial performance? When is it good or bad to have diversity in circadian rhythms within an entrepreneurial team?
3. Are there interventions that are particularly effective for improving entrepreneurs’ sleep?
4. Are there any entrepreneurial sleep impairment trends? For example, are particular entrepreneurial events and stages in the entrepreneurial process related to poor sleep? Is sleep impairment similar according to venture types or within teams? How does sleep compare between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs?
5. How does sleep impairment impact upon other aspects of entrepreneurial performance? For example, on how entrepreneurial pitches are delivered and evaluated?
6. What are the effects of entrepreneurs’ sleep for the longer-term performance of the individual, team, and startup?
7. When does it pay to sacrifice sleep in entrepreneurship?


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An Argument for Compassionate Research Methods

9505520762_1ec974cdf1_z[We are pleased to welcome Hans Hansen of Texas Tech University. Hans recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods, entitled “This is Going to Hurt: Compassionate Research Methods” with co-author Christine Quinn Trank of Vanderbilt University.]

Compassionate research hopes to make the world a better place by reducing suffering, but it can also provide our field with new theories, which we desperately need. When you look at the world with a new lens, you see new things, things that other lenses could not reveal. We hope that a compassionate approach can not only reveal new aspects of existing phenomena, but entirely new phenomena as well, and lead to entirely new theories of organizing.

Current Issue Cover

The topic of compassion is making an impact in organizational studies, and interest continues to increase, so our aim was to provide a methodology for this burgeoning field. In addition to moving us in new directions, we also hope to increase compassionate research by clearing outlining a distinct method.

We hope to give the field a push, and just as grounded theory provided a clear method for inductive research, we hope compassionate methods become the guide for compassionate research, and be generative in providing new insights and theories.

The abstract for the paper:

As compassion has become established in the organizational literature as an important area of study, calls for increased compassion in our own work and research have increased. Compassion can take many forms in academic work, but in this article we propose a framework for compassionate research methods. Not only driven by caring for others and a desire for improving their lot, compassionate research methods actually immerse the researcher in compassionate work. We propose that compassionate research methods include three important elements: ethnography, aesthetics, and emotionality. Together, these provide opportunities for emergent theoretical experimentation that can lead to both the alleviation of suffering in the immediate research context and new theoretical insights. To show the possibilities of this method, we use empirical data from a unique setting—the first U.S. permanent death penalty defense team.

You can read “This is Going to Hurt: Compassionate Research Methods” from Organizational Research Methods free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to keep current on all of the latest research from Organizational Research MethodsClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Conversation image attributed to Andreas Bloch (CC)

Mindfulness Leads to Positive Outcomes at Work

3752743934_586c123f3c_zMindfulness training can help individuals increase their attention and awareness, but how can this present-centered mindset help in the workplace? The recent article published in Journal of Management entitled, “Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review” from authors Darren J. Good, Christopher J. Lyddy, Theresa M. Glomb, Joyce E. Bono, Kirk Warren Brown, Michelle K. Duffy, Ruth A. Baer, Judson A. Brewer, and Sara W. Lazar delves into the applications of mindfulness at work. Their findings suggest that mindfulness training can have a broad, positive impact across key workplace outcomes. The abstract from the paper:

Mindfulness research activity is surging within organizational science. Emerging evidence across multiple fields suggests that mindfulness is fundamentally connected to many aspects of workplace functioning, but this knowledge base has not been systematically integrated to date. This review coalesces the burgeoning body of JOM 41(3)_Covers.inddmindfulness scholarship into a framework to guide mainstream management research investigating a broad range of constructs. The framework identifies how mindfulness influences attention, with downstream effects on functional domains of cognition, emotion, behavior, and physiology. Ultimately, these domains impact key workplace outcomes, including performance, relationships, and well-being. Consideration of the evidence on mindfulness at work stimulates important questions and challenges key assumptions within management science, generating an agenda for future research.

You can read “Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from  Journal of ManagementClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

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*Rock tower image credited to Natalie Lucier (CC)


Should We Focus on Service Quality or Emotions? How to Build Customer-Brand Relationships to Increase Marketing Performance

 [We’re pleased to welcome Bettina Nyffenegger of the Institute of Marketing and Management at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Dr. Nyffenegger recently collaborated with Harley Krohmer, Wayne D. Hoyer, and Lucia Malaer on their article “Service Brand Relationship Quality: Hot or Cold?” from Journal of Service Research.]


Bettina Nyffenegger

Managers often have to decide whether their marketing activities should focus on improved services and functional features or on more emotional content to develop strong customer-brand relationships. That was a challenge that the Head of Marketing of a large European Airline was facing at the time we conducted a research project on brand relationship quality (BRQ), a customer-based indicator of the strength and depth of the person-brand relationship. Should emotions or quality-related, more functional aspects have more weight in the brand’s marketing campaign? How do they affect marketing performance (such as customer’s willingness to pay, word-of-mouth (WOM), consideration set, share-of-wallet, and revenue)? These were some of his questions that we tried to answer in our new research published in the Journal of Service Research (JSR).

Based on a large-scale survey among the frequent flyers of the Airline and objective performance data from the frequent flyer program, we show that service BRQ involves two components, “Cold” BRQ and “Hot” BRQ. We also find important and relevant distinction between the two in terms of both antecedents and consequences.

–             “Cold” BRQ is based on object-relevant beliefs resulting in satisfaction and trust. It is characterized by a high confidence in and a positive evaluation of the service brand’s performance (i.e., it is tied to the quality of the service).

–             “Hot” BRQ reflects consumers’ feelings and emotional connection to the brand. Longing for the brand, feelings of emotional closeness to the brand, and the intention to stay with the brand through good times and bad are crucial elements of the hot component.

Our results reveal that investments in both hot and cold BRQ have an economic impact by influencing customer behaviors. Thus, service providers should cultivate both the hot and cold BRQ of their customers, but for different reasons.

If the main objective is to grow revenues from the existing customer base (i.e., “internal” growth via a higher willingness to pay and a reduced consideration set size of existing customers), managers may want to focus on building hot BRQ with their customers. On the other hand, if their main objective is to expand the customer base by acquiring new customers (i.e., “external” growth via more intense WOM activities of existing customers), cold BRQ becomes more important.

More specifically, hot BRQ has been shown to have a stronger impact on customers’ willingness to pay. Thus, instead of lowering prices (e.g., when faced with high competition and heavy price cutting), it may pay off for service providers to focus on the emotional value they provide to customers and to build up hot BRQ. As an example, Starbucks customers are willing to pay a relatively high price for their coffee due to the emotional brand experience and connections.

In addition, hot BRQ is also more important for a reduced consideration of competitive brands. Thus, those service providers who can establish strong emotional ties with their customers achieve a sound protection from competitive threats and new competitors.

Cold BRQ better helps to attract new customers through positive WOM. While emotions may play an important role, for example, in viral marketing activities, customers need to be convinced about the quality and reliability of the service in order to recommend the service brand to others.

In addition, our research examined how such hot and cold consumer-service brand relationships can be developed. Our results suggest that to increase hot BRQ in early stages of consumer-brand relationships, managers should focus on enforcing consumer’s perception of the fit between his/her self and the brand’s personality (self-congruence).  To create an emotional connection between new customers and the brand, managers should adopt a customer perspective in defining service brand personality. This means, for example that the design of the service environment, marketing communications, and behavior of frontline personnel have to create brand personality associations that foster similarity of perceptions with the customers.

In later stages of the relationship, managers should gradually develop the brand’s partner quality (i.e., whether the brand/company treats the customer well, shows interest in, and cares for him/her) in order to increase hot BRQ. Partner quality is also crucial for the build-up of cold BRQ – in early and even more in later stages of a consumer service-brand relationship. This illustrates the important role of a brand’s representatives. Caring and empathetic service experiences they create reduce uncertainty and increase confidence in the quality and reliability of the brand.


Bettina Nyffenegger is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Institute of Marketing and Management at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Her main research fields are branding, relationship marketing, and consumer behavior with articles published in journals such as the Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of Service Research.

The article Service Brand Relationship Quality: Hot or Cold? featured in the post was co-authored by Bettina NyffeneggerHarley KrohmerLucia Malaer (Institute of Marketing and Management, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland), Wayne D. Hoyer  (McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin). It is available ahead of print at Journal of Service Research website. Journal of Service Research is the world’s leading service research journal that features articles by service experts from both academia and business world.


Republished with permission. The original post was published on the Center for Services Leadership blog.

The Need for a Happy Holiday

Vacations are made for enjoyment. Seeing old friends, relaxing, sightseeing, and escaping the daily grind are all undeniably appealing. But various factors including holiday stress, fellow travelers, and tiredness can sometimes make a vacay not so happy.

The Journal of Travel Research published a study that answers the question: How happy are tourists during a day of their holiday and what makes them happy? The article offers suggestions for tourism managers to enhance travelers’ experiences, as well as for tourists who want to increase their chances of a happy vacation:

How happy are tourists during a day of their holiday and what makes them happy? These questions were addressed in a study  of 466 international tourists in the Netherlands. While on vacation, tourists are generally high on hedonic level of affect, with positive affect exceeding negative affect almost fourfold. Affect balance is higher than generally observed in everyday life,  whereas tourists’ life satisfaction is not significantly different compared with life satisfaction in their everyday life. Vacationers’ socioeconomic backgrounds and life satisfaction only partially explain their affective state of the day. Most of the variance is explained by factors associated with the holiday trip itself. During a holiday, holiday stress and attitude toward the travel party are the most important determinants of daily affect balance. These findings imply that on the whole, the tourism industry is doing a good job. The industry could probably do better with more research on experiences during the holiday.

Click here to read the article, “Determinants of Daily Happiness on Vacation,” published by Jeroen Nawijn, tourism lecturer at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences. in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Travel Research, and click here to receive e-alerts about new research from the journal.

Life after Business Failure

What happens to entrepreneurs
when their businesses fail?

Get the answer in the Journal of Management review, “Life after Business Failure: The Process and Consequences of Business Failure for Entrepreneurs“:

People hear of highly successful entrepreneurs extolling the virtues of failure as a valuable teacher. Yet the aftermath of failure is often fraught with psychological, social, and financial turmoil. The purpose of this article is to review research on life after business failure for entrepreneurs, from the immediate aftermath through to recovery and re-emergence.

Click here to read the article, published on August 23, 2012 by Deniz Ucbasaran of the University of Warwick; Dean A. Shepherd of Indiana University; and Andy Lockett and S. John Lyon, both of the University of Warwick.

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