Reviewing Family Firm Succession Literature with a Social Exchange Perspective

[We’re pleased to welcome Joshua Daspit of Mississippi State University. Dr. Daspit recently published an article in Family Business Review with co-authors James J. Chrisman, Daniel T. Holt, and Rebbeca G. Long of Mississippi State University, entitled “Examining Family Firm Succession from a Social Exchange Perspective: A Multi-Phase, Multi-Stakeholder Review.”]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Family firms represent a vast majority of firms in the United States and across the world, and a successful succession process is vital for the family firm to endure across generations.   Despite the importance of succession, however, the majority of familyFBR_C1_revised authors color.indd firms will not survive their first transition of power, making succession one of the most critical issues for the family firm. The study of succession is essential to the long-term succession and generation of socioemotional wealth. Therefore, to take an account of what we know as researchers and what we need to know to advance the field, we reviewed the current state of family firm succession research.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

To examine the status of research as it relates to the succession process in family firms, we examined research across three phases of succession (ground rules and first steps, development of the successor, and transition of power). Further, we used a social exchange perspective to examine how various relationships within the family firm affect the phases of succession. Specifically, we examined relational exchanges (a) between incumbent and successor, (b) within the family boundary, and (c) across the family boundary. In all, we examine the nature of each type of exchange within each phase of succession.

Our investigation notes that the majority of research on family firm succession examines exchanges within the family boundary in the first phase of succession (ground rules and first steps). Interestingly, we found no primary research contributions that examine exchange across the family boundary within phase two (development of the successor) and phase three (transition of power) of the succession process. This insight suggest that more research is needed to examine how the relationships among family members and nonfamily members (or other nonfamily stakeholders like suppliers, advisors, etc.) affect the later phases of the succession process within the family firm.

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

The purpose of this manuscript is to provide a comprehensive review of family firm succession literature. We reviewed contributions from 34 journals and found 88 articles that quantitatively examined succession. Using a social exchange perspective, we sorted the contributions according to the primary nature of exchange examined and the primary phase of succession noted. For each level of exchange across each phase of succession, we highlighted insights gained from our review of the literature, and we proposed future extensions needed to advance the field. Overall, this article may be helpful for researchers and managers interested in understanding more about the nature of succession within the family firm.

You can read “Examining Family Firm Succession from a Social Exchange Perspective: A Multi-Phase, Multi-Stakeholder Review” from Family Business Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know more about the latest research from Family Business ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

Podcast Microphone

You can also listen to Dr. Daspit and Dr. Chrisman speak about “Examining Family Firm Succession from a Social Exchange Perspective: A Multi-Phase, Multi-Stakeholder Review” in a new Family Business Review podcast, which you can listen to here, or download here. Want to hear more? Click here to browse more podcasts from Family Business Review and here to subscribe to the SAGE Management and Business podcast channel on iTunes.


Josh DaspitJoshua J. Daspit is an Assistant Professor of Management at Mississippi State University. His research interests include examining firm capabilities and innovation with a primary focus on absorptive capacity and family business. Prior to joining academia, he worked as a senior consultant for an international consulting firm and served as Director of Community Affairs for a member of Congress.

Daniel T. Holt

Daniel T. Holt is an Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business at Mississippi State University. He received his PhD in management from Auburn University. Prior to joining the faculty at Mississippi State University, he served in the U.S. Air Force, serving as an engineer in Central America, Asia, and Middle East. Daniel’s research interests include family business, entrepreneurship, measurement methods, and organizational change.

James J. ChrismanJames J. Chrisman is the Julia Bennett Rouse Professor of Management, Head of the Department of Management and Information Systems, and Director of the Center of Family Enterprise Research at Mississippi State University. He also holds a joint appointment as Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at the University of Alberta, School of Business.

Rebecca G. Long

Rebecca G. Long (PhD, Louisiana State University) is a Professor of Management andAssociate Dean of the Graduate School at Mississippi State University. She serves on the editorial review board of Family Business Review and her research has appeared in academic journals such as Organizational Research Methods, Journal of Management, Human Relations, Academy of Management Journal, Business Ethics Quarterly and Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice. Her research interests revolve around social exchange and the development of social capital within entrepreneurial and family firms.


This Year in Review: The Top 5 Management INK Posts from 2015

As the year comes to an end, we’d like to celebrate by taking a look back at some of the most popular posts this year. Over the past year, Management INK has created 178 new posts, for a total of 1,469 published posts since Management INK started in 2010. Here is a countdown of this years most popular 2015 posts:

5. Pedro Monteiro and Davide Nicolini on Material Elements in Institutional Work

The abstract from the featured Journal of Management Inquiry article, “Recovering Materiality in Institutional Work: Prizes as an Assemblage of Human and Material Entities”:

In this article we utilize a (posthumanist) practice theory orientation to foreground the neglected role of material elements (e.g., objects JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointand spaces) in institutional work. The paper builds on the results of an empirical study of two prizes in the Italian public sector for best practices in public administration and healthcare respectively. Our discussion centres on the critical role played by materiality in the legitimizing work performed by the two prizes. More specifically, we show that humans and material elements share the institutional work of mimicry, theorizing, educating, and reconfiguring normative networks. The article expands and enriches the notion of institutional work by foregrounding its inherent heterogeneous nature. It also shows the capacity of post-humanist and practice oriented approaches to shed new light on fundamental questions regarding the nature of situated action and distributed effort in institutional analysis.

4. What Do Students Think of Social Media in the Classroom?

The abstract from the featured Journal of Marketing Education article, “Students’ Perceptions and Experiences of Social Media in Higher Education”:

Recent research has discussed the opportunities associated with the use of social media tools in the classroom, but has JME(D)_72ppiRGB_powerpointnot examined the perceptions students themselves hold about its usefulness in enhancing their educational experience. This research explores students’ perceptions of social media as an effective pedagogical tool. Undergraduate students in a midsized, private university taking a marketing course were surveyed about their social media usage and preferences as well as their perceptions regarding the use of social media in higher education. Additional qualitative data collection with students probed into motivations for social media use in education as well as instructor and university perceptions. Findings reveal openness to using social media in education, uncover interactive and information motives for its use, and offer theoretical and pedagogical implications. Importantly, we offer insights into how educators can strategically incorporate social media tools into the classroom as well as how the use of social media can potentially affect students’ views of the instructor and the university.

3. Reflections on Academic Research and Writing: The Ecstasy and the Agony

From the featured Administrative Science Quarterly article, “What is Organizational Research For?”:

Organizational research is guided by standards of what journals will publish and what gets rewarded in ASQ_v60n2_Jun2014_cover.inddscholarly careers. This system can promote novelty rather than truth and impact rather than coherence. The advent of big data, combined with our current system of scholarly career incentives, is likely to yield a high volume of novel papers with sophisticated econometrics and no obvious prospect of cumulative knowledge development. Moreover, changes in the world of organizations are not being met with changes in how and for whom organizational research is done. It is time for a dialogue on who and what organizational research is for and how that should shape our practice.

2. John Paul Stephens on Aesthetics in Design Thinking

From the interview for the Journal of Management Inquiry article, “The Aesthetic Knowledge Problem of Problem-Solving With Design Thinking”:

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointIn attending the 2010 “Convergence: Managing + Designing” workshop at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, we were struck with a particular question. Isn’t “managing as designing” (or “design thinking” for some folks) simply all about aesthetics? If so, what does this mean for managers and their organizations?

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

In researching for this essay, we were struck by the mix of opinions and research on how well managers and organizational systems could rely on “design” and using non-rational forms of problem-solving. More recent thinking has suggested that organizations today really need to incorporate novel, less-familiar ways of defining and generating solutions for problems.

But there are also arguments that the management education and the reward systems in organizations are all set up to focus on rationally getting to the bottom-line through selecting from pre-determined options. Also, even though design thinking seems to be a pretty popular way to approach problems in organizations these days, it still hasn’t been defined clearly, and is still limited to only a few key adopters. We tried to take in all perspectives saying that 1) we agree that new ways of seeing problems and their impacts are needed 2) using art-based forms of defining problems and generating solutions provides insight into things that are usually hard to see and talk about 3) this relies on aesthetic knowledge – or the ‘feel’ of a problem for the people involved – and therefore on engaging our bodily senses and 4) not very many organizations are set up to draw on this kind of knowledge based in what we see, hear, touch, smell, and even taste.

1. The Art of Referencing in Scholarly Articles

From the Family Business Review editorial, “Referencing in Scholarly Articles: What is Just Right?”:

The scholarly reference (1) gives credit to the original source of materials used and (2) provides FBR_C1_revised authors color.inddevidence of the depth and breadth of scholarly work, via the materials reviewed, integrated, and synthesized to form the basis of the research. The reference list of a manuscript reflects the authors’ due diligence in exploring and understanding the research topic. To situate its contribution, a scientific text must establish a context and convey to readers the extent and nature of its relationship to the existing literature. References are the means to establish this context and the nature of contribution (Locke & Golden-Biddle, 1997).

References, then, serve as a critical component of the scholarly article, worthy of careful time and attention by authors, and careful review and evaluation by reviewers and readers. The goal of this editorial is to provide a thought-provoking discussion of references in the scholarly manuscript and identifying key points to be considered in selecting and presenting references for publication in family business and other areas in management and organizational research.

To celebrate the new year, all five articles will be open for the next two weeks. Happy New Year from Management INK!

Book Review: Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream

Terrified Book Cover

Christopher Bail: Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. 223 pp. $35.00, hardcover.

You can read the book review by Mary-Hunter McDonnell of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in the December 2015 issue of Administrative Science Quarterly. From the review:

This work presents a fascinating exploration of the rising influence of anti-Muslim fringe organizations in the United States after September 11, 2001. One might naturally assume that these organizations gained influence after 9/11 by exploiting a wave of grassroots anti-Muslim sentiment prompted by the 9/11 attackers’ self-identification as Muslims. But Bail’s account begins with surprising evidence that American attitudes about Muslims actually became more positive in the attack’s ASQ_v60n4_Dec2015_cover.inddimmediate wake. His study suggests fringe groups influenced the popular understanding of Islam through a decade-long campaign in which these groups strategically reconstituted their cultural environment by successively solidifying their influence in the media, the field of civil society organizations, and the state. With this provocative case, Bail sheds light on the mechanisms of cultural evolution in the wake of major crises.

You can read the rest of the review from Administrative Science Quarterly for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research and reviews like this from Administrative Science QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

Journal of Management Education’s Editors on the Invisibility of Reviewers

JMEFor reviewers, anonymity can be both a good thing and a bad thing. While anonymous reviews allow reviewer’s freedom to evaluate submissions solely based on merit, anonymity also means that reviewers are left unrecognized for their thoughtful yet time-consuming work. It would seem that this trade-off has made reviewing less of an attractive opportunity for potential reviewers. In their article, “Harry Potter in the Academy: Reviewing and Our Own Cloak of Invisibility, published in the current issue of Journal of Management Education, Kathy Lund Dean and Jeanie M. Forray offer a thought-provoking discussion of the flaws and merits of the blind review process, including why change is necessary to attract new reviewers. The article begs the question, is it possible that in the future, reviewers will cast off their Invisibility Cloaks, so to speak, and receive more recognition?

From the editorial:

We should not be surprised by the shrinking pool of reviewers for our conferences and publications. Steve Kerr explained for us decades ago how we focus our attention on that which is rewarded at the expense of other activities (Kerr, 1975). Perhaps because of Kerr’s article so many years ago and its continued power to frame reward systems theory and practice, we would expect management academics to, well, understand how not acknowledging the importance of reviewing will lead to precisely the dearth of reviewer pool we and other editors are experiencing, and change the reward system. That reviewing remains largely considered a service activity rather than a bona fide intellectual contribution is a serious issue for the continued health of our field. And the “blind” aspect of reviewing only exacerbates its invisibility—a reviewer devotes many hours, probably closer to a full day, to assessing a manuscript and to crafting a helpful, supportive review, and all that is usually noted on that person’s CV is a single bullet point telling others for which journals she or he serves as a reviewer. This must change, not only due to the inequity between those who author and those who review but also because of its gross distortion of how publication actually comes about.

You can read the rest of the editorial from Journal of Management Education free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from Journal of Management Education? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Taking a Closer Look at the Building Blocks of Psychological Contracts

GOM 39(6)_Covers.indd[We’re pleased to welcome Ultan P. Sherman of the University College Cork. Dr. Sherman recently collaborated with Michael J. Morley of the University of Limerick on their article “On the Formation of the Psychological Contract: A Schema Theory Perspective” from Group and Organization Management.]

When I registered as a Ph.D student many years ago, my supervisor at the time (and co-author on this paper) Prof. Michael Morley tasked me with reading five articles on the psychological contract. The very first article I read was by Denise Rousseau (2001). In her seminal paper she discussed the schematic principles of the psychological contract. Fourteen years after this paper was first published it still surprises me that the building blocks of the psychological contract has only received minor attention from researchers. Both Michael and I felt that revisiting the ‘psychology’ of the psychological contract would facilitate a deeper understanding of how the contract is created. It is funny to think that the very first article I read has significantly informed this paper.

Many of us will recall feelings of anxiety on our first day of work. Often this anxiety stems from the fear of the unknown. To allay this fear, new recruits often seek lots of information as a means of addressing the unanswered questions we hold about our new job (i.e. what is my team like?, do we work late into the evenings in this firm?, etc.). Our paper argues that the information gathered at the beginning of employment is used to make sense of a new job and it is from this process that a psychological contract emerges. Of course, a new recruit will seek out and interpret information differently depending on many different biases and individual motivations contained in their schema. The schema filters new information in light of past work experiences and individual motivations. Therefore, by understanding the elements of the schema and how it functions, we can gain a deeper insight into how the psychological contract is created.

We hope that this paper will guide future researchers along new lines of enquiry into how the psychological contract is created. We all have very unique and idiosyncratic work experiences that influence our perceptions of each subsequent employment. Exploring this ‘baggage’ will allow us to better predict behaviour in and around the employment relationship. Similarly, we encourage future researchers to more explicitly examine how information is used by new recruits at organisational entry. From a practical perspective, it is in the employers interest to know what sources of information are used, and not used, by new recruits at the beginning of their tenure with the firm.

You can read “On the Formation of the Psychological Contract: A Schema Theory Perspective” from Group and Organization Management for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest news and research from Group and Organization Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

w_rms_blob_commonUltan P. Sherman is a lecturer in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at the School of Management and Marketing, University College Cork, Ireland. His primary research interests lie broadly in the relationship between work and psychology focusing on issues such as the psychological contract, knowledge circulation and the meaning of work.

MichaelMorley_10[1]Michael J. Morley is Professor of Management at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Ireland. His research interests encompass international, comparative and cross-cultural issues in human resource management which he investigates at micro, meso and macro levels.

Book Review: Stumbling on Wins

stumbling_on_winsDavid J. Berri and Martin B. Schmidt. Stumbling on Wins, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, NJ: FT Press, 1st edition, 2010. 256 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0132357784

Read the review by Jahn K. Hakes of the U.S. Census Bureau, published in the Journal of Sports Economics June 2012 issue:

The central question of David Berri and Martin Schmidt’s most recent book, Stumbling On Wins, is how so many people paid so much to make good managerial choices can consistently and repeatedly make bad ones. Often these choices are bad not just in retrospect, but appear predictably ill informed even in a profession inundated by a veritable deluge of quantitative data. Indeed, amateur bystanders and academics have used publicly available data to create a vibrant cottage industry disseminating statistical analysis and (ex post) testable predictions. JSE__.inddMany of these modelers have developed ‘‘favorite toys’’ that consistently predict athlete performance better than the professionals. The book’s title, an allusion to Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, is intended to point out how elusive the secret of building winning sports teams (like the secret of happiness) remains. While the vast amounts of interest and effort put into the respective searches are similar, the soundness of the implied analogy is crucial to the authors’ thesis, yet is largely ignored. What if ‘‘Wins’’ in sports aren’t always the same as ‘‘Happiness’’?

Read the full review here, and browse the current issue of JSE by clicking here.

Book Review: The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America

the_great_apMark Levinson: The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2011. 358 pp. $27.95 (Hardback) $14.99 (Kindle).

Read the review by Robert A. Mittelstaedt of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, forthcoming in the Journal of Macromarketing and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section:

Although I lived in much of the era when The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) was the largest chain (grocery or otherwise) in the United States, I was in my mid-thirties before I ever shopped in one of their stores. And it was not very impressive—about 4,000 square feet of crowded shelves and dimly lit aisles. Notable at the time, and sticking with me to this day, were the checkout stations. Instead of moving belts, JMMK_new C1 template.inddthey had a counter onto which one placed one’s purchases and the checker pulled them toward the register using a U-shaped contraption made of wood. It was 1968, but it felt like stepping back into another time.

By then A&P was in decline. The chain that once had over 16,000 stores and did over 10 percent of all the grocery business in the country was on its way to its present size, a few hundred stores in the Northeastern United States, many of them operating under different names.

Marc Levinson, PhD, author of five books, and former writer and editor for Time, Newsweek, and The Economist, tells the story of the rise and fall of this giant.

Read the full review here, and browse the current issue of JMK by clicking here.