Author Information : Danny Miller (HEC Montreal and University of Alberta)
Johan Wiklund (Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University)
Wei Yu (Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Management, National University of Singapore)
Note: Names are listed alphabetically. All authors contributed equally.
Year of Publication : Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (forthcoming)
Summary of Findings : Building on the socioemotional wealth (SEW) perspective of family business, the ABCX model of family coping and work-family interface literature, we develop a theoretical model to suggest how mental disorders interact with family and family business resources to influence the dynamics between families and their firms, and the outcomes from those dynamics.
Research Questions : What are the opportunities and challenges for family businesses dealing with mental disorders in the family?
What are the potential outcomes for family businesses dealing with mental disorders in the family?
What we know : A recent descriptive study suggests that there could be a high prevalence of mental disorders among family businesses (Hutcheson et al., 2013). There is also evidence suggesting that mental disorders have led to the demise of prospering businesses and families and that some individuals start businesses in part to employ family members who suffer from mental disorders and would have difficulty finding jobs elsewhere. Despite this, systematic evidence is very sparse. Thus, we develop a conceptual framework and a research agenda to guide future research in understanding the dynamic interactions between family businesses and mental disorders.
Novel Findings : We provide a conceptual model of how the negative and positive priorities of socioemotional wealth (SEW) preservation in family firms influence the nature of the challenges faced by family firms coping with mental disorders, and the resources available for coping with those challenges.
The family business coping resources are: Flexibility to design work to exploit unique talents and adapt to special needs; Protection of firm and family reputation and the motivation to cooperate and adapt; Profound understanding of mental disorders by team and deep connections across organization; Trust, altruism, emotional support; More investment in training and social support.
The family business aggravating stressors/challenges are: Inability to dethrone dysfunctional CEO, or inappropriate jobs given to person with mental disorder; Clinging to power and entitled mental disorder employees; Overprotection of embedded, incompetent family member; Negative emotional conflict; Reduced talent pool and the need to manage succession tension.
Implications for Practice : As much as 25 percent of the world’s population and one third of the U.S. population faces some mental health problem, and chronic diagnoses such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorder are on the rise globally. Many, if not most, families are affected, including those operating businesses. The intimate knowledge and understanding family members have of each other and the unique emotional connections among them suggest that family businesses may be ideal for accommodating people with mental disorders while also capitalizing on their strengths. At the same time, mental disorders can cause severe problems for family businesses.
For family businesses and family business advisors, our conceptual framework provides a nuanced understanding of the resources they can utilize to cope with mental disorders and the unique challenges they need to consider in the adaptation process. Based on the fact that several mental disorders are hereditary, and that self-employment is particularly attractive for people with mental disorders, there is reason to believe that mental disorders are very common among business families. Thus, our conceptual framework provides a much needed guideline.
Implications for Society: Our study helps raise awareness of the mental health issues in business families.
Implications on Research: Our study proposes a conceptual model and a research agenda for future research on family business and mental disorders. We identify important research questions and potential empirical approaches. We also contribute to family business research in the following two ways.
First, it has been recognized that the resource and interpersonal transactions across family and business domains are crucial for family-business viability and sustainability, especially during times of disruption. However, it is also important to study the unique resources and challenges inherent in family businesses that shape such transactions. We bring much-needed specificity to models of family business sustainability in terms of both the types of unique resources/challenges and the outcomes
Second, we also contribute to the resource-based view of family business by extending the types of outcomes that are important for family business especially during times of disruptions and by suggesting that family businesses have a unique bundle of adaptive resources and challenges compared to nonfamily businesses.
Full Citations : Miller, Danny, Wiklund, Johan, & Yu, Wei. “Mental Health in the Family Business: A Conceptual Model and a Research Agenda”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (ETP) (Accepted)
Abstract : Mental health issues are affecting not only families world-wide but also numerous family businesses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the
uniqueness of the family business may be a double-edged sword generating both benefits and drawbacks for business families dealing with mental disorders. Building on the socioemotional wealth (SEW) perspective of family business, the ABCX model of family coping and work-family interface literature, we develop a theoretical model to suggest how MDs interact with family and family business resources to influence the dynamics between families and their firms, and the outcomes from those dynamics. A research agenda is then proposed.
This entrepreneurship research presents a theoretical model to suggest how mental disorders interact and influence the dynamics between families and their firms, and the outcomes from those dynamics.
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