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‘Negotiating the said and the unsaid’: exploring the role of emotions within families and family firms?

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JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
DatePublished - 1 May 2017
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this article, we explore the role of emotion, power dynamics and politics within family businesses. By exploring these complementary and contradictory processes, we challenge the assumption that emotions embedded within the family business have necessarily a negative impact on business operations. We reveal how the heterogeneity of contexts within family businesses and the associated heterogeneity of emotions within individual family members impact on the family business. Rather than seeking to differentiate the family from the business, we argue that family businesses represent emotional arenas in which emotions of individual family members play a crucial role. Using vignettes generated from four families, over a series of interviews and informal conversations, which consisted of generalised discussions of the moments and exchange processes in the field, we elucidate how individuals utilise a variety of different practices of remaining silent, containing, hiding and often avoiding the outward expression of emotions in order to maintain primary importance to the success of the family and the family business. In doing so, these individuals demonstrate that their embedded loyalty to the family and family business over-rides their own individual needs and offers critical insights into the everyday dynamics of families and family firms.

    Research areas

  • family entrepreneurship, families, power dynamics, politics, emotions

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