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Articulating Values Through Identity Work: Advancing Family Business Ethics Research

Abstract

Family values are argued to enable ethical family business conduct. However, how these arise, evolve, and how family leaders articulate them is less understood. Using an ‘identity work’ approach, this paper finds that the values underpinning identity work: (1) arise from multiple sources (in our case: religion, culture and sustainability), (2) evolve in tandem with the context; and, (3) that their articulation is relational and aspirational, rather than merely historical. Prior research mostly understood family values as rooted in the past and relatively stable, but our rhetorical analysis unlocks a more dynamic and promising research direction advancing family business ethics.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the special issue editors and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. We are also grateful to Peter Jaskiewicz and participants of IFERA 2018 and an Asia School of Business research seminar in 2018 for useful suggestions to improve this manuscript. All errors remain our responsibility.

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Correspondence to Marleen Dieleman.

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Dieleman, M., Koning, J. Articulating Values Through Identity Work: Advancing Family Business Ethics Research. J Bus Ethics 163, 675–687 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04380-9

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Keywords

  • Identity work
  • Family business ethics
  • Religion