Emotion in Family Business and Entrepreneurship

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Family business and entrepreneurship are not often studied together, and yet both fields incorporate research on the impact of emotions. Research on emotion not only provides a point of intersection between the two fields, it also creates an opportunity to expand  the application of socio-emotional research across multiple fields, including family business, entrepreneurship, management, and more. In the Family Business Review editorial, “An Emotions Perspective for Advancing the Fields of Family Business and Entrepreneurship: Stocks, Flows, Reactions, and Responses,” Dean A. Shepherd of Indiana University explores how socio-emotional wealth as researched in family business literature can be applied more broadly to entrepreneurship and management through this intersection.

From the editorial:

While family business research has investigated the consequences of the loss (or threatened loss) of socio-emotional wealth for decision making (Cruz et al., 2010; Gómez-Mejía et al., 2007) and entrepreneurship research has investigated the consequences of the loss of an entrepreneurial endeavor (i.e., a project [Shepherd et al., 2011] or a business [Shepherd, 2003]) for decision making, it is surprising that there has been little overlap between the two. Cross-fertilization FBR_C1_revised authors color.inddwill likely be beneficial to both fields. Specifically, perhaps higher emotion stocks lead to greater persistence despite poor performance, but such persistence can make failure more costly when it eventually occurs, having a more negative impact on the family’s well-being (and that of its members). Furthermore, the greater the emotion stock invested in the business, the more important the business is to the family (and to family members) and the greater the grief generated from its failure. This would indicate that these family members and families would suffer longer, learn less, and be less motivated to try again. However, perhaps some of the emotion stocks that encouraged persistence could also be used as a resource for coping with grief—that is, while experiencing more grief over the failure of an entrepreneurial endeavor, those with high collective emotion stocks may be able to more quickly reduce grief, learn more quickly from the failure, and be more motivated to try again. Alternatively, the failure of the firm may destroy or radically change the family’s (and family members’) emotion-related set of values. As indicated by the many speculations mentioned above, we do not yet have a good understanding of the relationship between, on the one hand, the emotion stocks of a family (and/or the individuals and groups within the family) and, on the other hand, the failing and/or failure of entrepreneurial endeavors (i.e., projects or firms).

*Baker image credited to Thomas Berg (CC) 

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