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Good business culture through the generations

A study by the University of Urbino providing empirical evidence on the links between productions and entrepreneurship

 

Business is about more than just profit. It is a complex blend of feelings, emotions, every-day life, past and present experiences, dreams. A living business, in other words, is the result of something that transcends the bottom line, to reach a more engaging, nay fascinating, dimension. Something that is not theory, but real life.

Mauro Dini, Annalisa Sentuti and Tonino Pencarelli (researchers in management at the University of Urbino), have attempted to pinpoint the exact traits of this phenomenon by empirically applying the socio-emotional wealth (SEW) perspective. This locution refers to all the non-financial aspects of a family business that satisfy the emotional needs of the family itself, such as the family’s image and identity, its ability to exert influence, and the perpetuation of its line. ‘Succession and family business viability. A case study from a socio-emotional wealth perspective’, is the result of this investigation, which attempted above all to comprehend and explain the dynamics for development and performance improvement within a specific third-generation family business facing a situation of financial crisis.

After providing some theoretical background on the role of SEW in business, the paper illustrates the team’s research method and then proceeds to discuss its findings, starting from the story of the company under study and finally examining its evolving dynamics in terms of SEW.

Dini, Sentuti and Pencarelli explain how numerous elements indicate progressively decreasing SEW levels from one generation to the next, as the family displayed less and less emotional attachment to the business, replaced by an ever-increasing focus on commercial and financial objectives. The study ends by highlighting how certain conditions are capable of strengthening a family’s emotional bond with its business, as well as the connection between successor and company. The greater focus on commercial and financial goals may, therefore, not necessarily have been triggered by lower levels of SWE, but rather by the desire to restore what we now call performance, with the underlying goal of saving the business, which continues to be perceived as the source of the family’s financial and socio-emotional wealth.

The research paper by Dini, Sentuti and Pencarelli is certainly useful in better understanding the real-life ramifications of the theories of good business culture.

 

Succession and family business viability. A case study from a socio-emotional wealth perspective
Mauro Dini, Annalisa Sentuti, Tonino Pencarelli
Sinergie. Italian Journal of Management, Vol. 37, Issue 1, 2019

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