We are family!? Disentangling the owner family in family business

Schell, Sabrina; de Groote, Julia Katharina; Hack, Andreas; Kammerlander, Nadine (2018). We are family!? Disentangling the owner family in family business. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2018(1), p. 11456. Academy of Management, New York 10.5465/AMBPP.2018.174

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The family represents the heart of family business and defines its uniqueness. However, in all its heterogeneity, the family is often overlooked in family business research. Building on family science, social identity theory, and the current state of knowledge of ownership in family businesses, we argue that the owner family is a social group with membership criteria, and we characterize individual family members and their position in the owner family. We define the owner family as a social group based on family ties, (future) ownership and the interaction among individuals as well as the use of individual influence on the family. Included individuals consider themselves, and are perceived, to be part of the family and owners. In addition to this definition, we develop an owner family model and explore different types of owner family membership. We show that individuals can dynamically change their own position in the owner family over time and, in doing so, they can obtain more powerful positions in the family business. We conclude with a discussion of the effects of a concretely defined owner family on well-established family business research constructs and offer a future research agenda.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Organization and Human Resource Management > Human Resource Management

UniBE Contributor:

Schell, Sabrina; de Groote, Julia Katharina and Hack, Andreas


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics




Academy of Management, New York


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Sabrina Schell

Date Deposited:

17 Aug 2018 16:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:17

Publisher DOI:




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