Family Business Sustainability: The Intergenerational Transfer of Social Capital and Network Contacts

  • Fabian BernhardEmail author
  • Miriam Hiepler
  • François-Xavier Engel
Part of the International Marketing and Management Research book series (INMAMAR)


This chapter explores how social capital influences the sustainability of family businesses over generations. In a volatility-uncertainty-complexity-ambiguity (VUCA) world, relationships and networks become more and more important. Although social capital is accumulated over time and not easily transmitted, its transfer to the next generation must be a top priority in every family business. A qualitative method of data analysis was used to better understand the process and the mechanisms through which social capital and the firm’s relationships are transferred in intra-family succession.


Social capital Sustainable family business Succession Next generation 


  1. Adler, P., & Kwon, S. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. The Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17–40.Google Scholar
  2. Barach, J. A., Gantisky, J., Carson, J. A., & Doochin, B. A. (1988). Entry of the next generation: Strategic challenge for family business. Journal of Small Business Management, 26(2), 49–57.Google Scholar
  3. Barbera, F., Bernhard, F., Nacht, J., & McCann, G. (2015). The relevance of a whole-person learning approach to family business education: Concepts, evidence, and implications. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(3), 322–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baron, R. A., & Markman, G. D. (2000). Beyond social capital: How social skills can enhance entrepreneurs’ success. The Academy of Management Executive, 14(1), 106–116.Google Scholar
  5. Bernhard, F. (2011). Psychological ownership in family businesses: Three essays on antecedents and consequences. Lohmar, Germany: Eul Verlag.Google Scholar
  6. Bernhard, F. (2018). Holding on to family values or adapting to a changing world – The case of Barilla global business value innovations (pp. 117–127). Springer.Google Scholar
  7. Bernhard, F., & O’Driscoll, M. P. (2011). Psychological ownership in small family-owned businesses: Leadership style and nonfamily-employees’ work attitudes and behaviors. Group & Organization Management, 36(3), 345–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernhard, F., Pundt, A., & Martins, E. (2017). The role of leadership and related mediators in the development of psychological ownership in organizations. In C. Olckers, L. van Zyl, & L. van der Vaart (Eds.), Theoretical orientations and practical applications of psychological ownership (pp. 181–202). Springer.Google Scholar
  9. Bhalla, V., & Kachaner, N. (2015). Succeeding with succession planning in family businesses. The Boston Consulting Group.Google Scholar
  10. Cabrera-Suárez, K., De Saa-Perez, P., & Garcia-Almeida, D. (2001). The succession process from a resource-and knowledge-based view of the family firm. Family Business Review, 14(1), 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cadieux, L. (2007). Succession in small and medium-sized family businesses: Toward a typology of predecessor roles during and after instatement of the successor. Family Business Review, 10, 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chirico, F., & Laurier, W. (2008). The creation, sharing and transfer of knowledge in family business. Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 21(4), 413–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chrisman, J. J., Chua, J. H., & Sharma, P. (1998). Important attributes of successors in family business: An exploratory study. Family Business Review, 11(1), 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chua, J. H., Chrisman, J. J., & Sharma, P. (1999). Defining the family business by behavior. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 23(4), 19–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deloitte. (2016). Next-generation family businesses: Evolution, keeping family value alive.Google Scholar
  16. De Freyman, J., & Richomme-Huet, K. (2010). Entreprises familiales et phénomène successoral. Pour une approche intégrée des modes de transmission. Revue française de gestion, 200, 161–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Freyman, J., Richomme-Huet, K., Paturel, R., & Toulon, I. (2006). Condition model for transferring social capital in family business succession. Proceedings of the International Research Entrepreneurship Exchange.Google Scholar
  18. De Massis, A., Chua, J. H., & Chrisman, J. J. (2008). Factors preventing intra-family succession. Family Business Review, 21(2), 183–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dyer, W. G., Jr. (1986). Cultural change in family firms: Anticipating and managing business and family transitions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  20. Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14, 532–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goldberg, S. D. (1996). Effective successors in family-owned business. Family Business Review, 9(2), 185–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. KPMG Enterprises. (2015). European family business trends – Modern times?Google Scholar
  23. KPMG Entreprises. (2017). Baromètre des entreprises familiales européennes (6th ed.).Google Scholar
  24. Handler, W. C. (1990). Succession in family firms: A mutual role adjustment between entrepreneur and next-generation family members. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 15(1), 37–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Handler, W. C. (1992). The succession experience of the next generation. Family Business Review, 5(3), 283–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Handler, W. C. (1994). Succession in family business. Family Business Review, 7(2), 133–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hitt, M. A., & Ireland, R. (2002). The essence of strategic leadership: Managing human and social capital. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9(1), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lansberg, I. (1988). The succession conspiracy. Family Business Review, 1(2), 119–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Le Breton-Miller, I., Miller, D., & Steier, L. P. (2004). Toward an integrative model of effective FOBs succession. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 28(4), 305–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lee, D. S., Lim, G. H., & Lim, W. S. (2003). Family business succession: Appropriation risk and choice of successor. Academy of Management Review, 28(4), 657–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Malecki, E. (1997). Technology and economic development: The dynamics of local, regional, and national competitiveness. Amsterdam: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  32. Malinen, P. (2001). Like father like son? Small family business succession problems in Finland. Enterprise and Innovation Management Studies, 2(3), 195–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mazzola, P., Marchisio, G., & Astrachan, J. (2008). Strategic planning in family business: A powerful developmental tool for the next generation. Family Business Review, 21(3), 239–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Morris, M. H., Williams, R. O., Allen, J. A., & Avila, R. A. (1997). Correlates of success in family business transitions. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(5), 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital and the organizational advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23, 242–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nougein, C., & Vaspart, M. (2017). Rapport d’information fait au nom de la délégation aux entreprises relatif aux moyens de favoriser la transmission d’entreprise au bénéfice de l’emploi dans les territoires. Sénat français, session ordinaire de 2016/2017.Google Scholar
  37. Osunde, C. (2017). Family businesses and its impact on the economy. Journal of Business & Financial Affairs, 6(1), 1–3.Google Scholar
  38. PwC. (2017). Croissance, innovation, transmission, quels enjeux pour les entreprises familiales?Google Scholar
  39. Sharma, P. (2004). An overview of the field of family business studies: Current status and directions for the future. Family Business Review, 17(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sharma, P., Chrisman, J. J., Pablo, A. L., & Chua, J. H. (2001). Determinants of initial satisfaction with the succession process in family firms: A conceptual model. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 25(3), 17–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sieger, P., Bernhard, F., & Frey, U. (2011). Affective commitment and job satisfaction among non-family employees: Investigating the roles of justice perceptions and psychological ownership. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 2(2), 78–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Steier, L. (2001). Next-generation entrepreneurs and succession: An exploratory study of modes and means of managing social capital. Family Business Review, 14(3), 259–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  44. Tatoglu, E., Kule, V., & Glaister, K. (2008). Succession planning in family-owned businesses. International Small Business Journal, 26(2), 155–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Venter, E., Bochoff, C., & Maas, G. (2005). The influence of successor-related factors on the succession process in small and medium-sized family businesses. Family Business Review, 18(4), 283–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ward, J. L. (1987). Keeping the family business healthy: How to plan for continuing growth, profitability, and family leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  47. Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research design and methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabian Bernhard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miriam Hiepler
    • 2
  • François-Xavier Engel
    • 3
  1. 1.EDHEC Business SchoolParisFrance
  2. 2.University of SiegenSiegenGermany
  3. 3.Lincoln InternationalParisFrance

Personalised recommendations