Problematizing Socioemotional Wealth in Family Firms: A systems-theoretical Reframing

Rupert Hasenzagl, Isabella Hatak, Hermann Frank

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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The concept of socioemotional wealth (SEW) seeks to present an independent paradigmatic basis for family-firm research, and in doing so aims to establish a sound basis for the scientific legitimacy of family-firm research. Establishing that legitimacy requires scholars to demonstrate that SEW is based on coherent assumptions on several theoretical levels. This paper uses the problematization methodology to challenge the coherence of the theoretical assumptions underpinning SEW and to advance theory development. The results of this problematization show that SEW is built on a theoretical level close to the object of research (in-house assumptions), but that more deeply-rooted theoretical levels (e.g. paradigmatic assumptions) are not sufficiently elaborated. Moreover, the original conceptualization is based on a positivist-mechanistic view, which hinders SEW reflecting the complex reality of family firms. Based on the results of this problematization, new systems theory is applied to reframe SEW’s theoretical grounding. Thereby the main contribution of the paper is a critical reflection on the theoretical underpinnings of SEW (in particular root-metaphor and paradigmatic assumptions), serving as the basis for advancing a coherent theoretical understanding of this important concept in family business research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199 - 223
JournalEntrepreneurship & Regional Development
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502052 Business administration
  • 502016 SME-research
  • 506009 Organisation theory
  • 502044 Business management
  • 502014 Innovation research
  • 502026 Human resource management
  • 502043 Business consultancy
  • 502006 Controlling

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