Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Family Involvement and Procedural Justice Climate among Nonfamily Managers: The Effects of Affect, Social Identities, Trust, and Risk of Non-Reciprocity

Academic journal article Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

Family Involvement and Procedural Justice Climate among Nonfamily Managers: The Effects of Affect, Social Identities, Trust, and Risk of Non-Reciprocity

Article excerpt

This commentary elaborates on the paper by Barnett, Long, and Marler wherein they conceptualize the relationships between family involvement, family vision, exchange systems, and procedural justice climate among nonfamily managers. My elaboration places their conceptual model within the wider context of the affect theory of social exchange and offers two directions for extension based on social identity theory and a longitudinal perspective.

Introduction

Barnett, Long, and Marler (2012) propose a conceptual model demonstrating the relationships between family involvement, family vision within the dominant coalition, and the emergence of a generalized or restricted exchange system that affects procedural justice climate (PJC) among nonfamily managers in different ways. The model is then used to provide insights about how nonfamily managers' collective perception of PJC influences their response to intra-family succession. Grounded in social exchange (SE) theory, their analysis emphasizes the relevance of the nature of SEs in family firms. This contributes to our understanding about how the interaction among and between members of the dominant coalition influences PJC among nonfamily managers. The study also contributes to the literature on family business succession by considering how nonfamily managers' PJC affects their support for intra-family succession. Building on Barnett et al.'s study, this commentary has two purposes: first, to place Barnett et al.'s insights within the wider context of the general affect theory of SE (Lawler, 2001); and second, to offer directions for their extension.

The general affect theory of SE (Lawler, 2001) expands the domain of exchange theorizing by incorporating emotions as an explicit and central feature of SE. By identifying the role of emotions in SE systems and considering the dominant coalition of the family firm as a social unit, the theory predicts that SE can produce either positive emotions (whose valence is an affective attachment) or negative emotions (whose valence is an affective detachment). Positive (negative) emotions will reinforce (weaken) ties with relations, groups, or networks. Therefore, affective attachment can potentially enhance family relationships and SE among members of the dominant coalition, while affective detachment can potentially impoverish family relationships and SE. Thus, what Barnett et al. (2012) propose about the effects of SE on PJC among nonfamily managers in family firms can be amplified by the feedback arising from positive or negative emotions.

Extensions of the Authors' Model

In this section, I propose two directions for extending Barnett et al.'s (2012) results. The first employs research on social identity theory (SIT) to argue that the relationship between family involvement and a generalized exchange system is affected by the existence of multiple social identity categories among the family firm's internal stakeholders. The second adopts a longitudinal perspective and discusses the role of trust and the risk of non-reciprocity to understand PJC in family firms. These two directions illustrate the important role of moderating and mediating factors in the relationships linking family involvement to family firm behaviors, thus allowing a deeper understanding of the complex and distinctive dynamics of family firms. The proposed extensions are presented in Figure 1.

Employing Research on Social Identity Theory

My first extension of Barnett et al.'s (2012) results draws on SIT (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). To illustrate the role that SIT can play in analyzing the family firm behavior in question, I first point out that these results are based on the assumption that the controlling family has the ability to determine the decision process and exchange norms among members of the dominant coalition and then transfer them to other internal stakeholders outside the coalition and to nonfamily managers in particular. …

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