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How does family capital influence the resilience of family firms?

  • Imen Mzid
  • Nada Khachlouf
  • Richard Soparnot
Article
  • 127 Downloads

Abstract

How does being a family business contribute to resilience in a turbulent business environment? We draw on the Sustainable Family Business Theory (SFBT) to highlight the role of family capital (human, social, and financial capital) in the resilience of a sample of family firms. We collected data through semi-structured interviews with managers of four Tunisian family firms after the political revolution between 2011 and 2014, which triggered economic instability and business discontinuities. Organizational agility and resilience consequently became vital. We find that social capital of family firms, which may be composed of local and/or international contacts, contributes the most to firms’ ability to absorb shocks, reallocate existing resources, and internalize practices that allow firms to cope with future disturbances. We also find that financial capital is largely determined by social capital and human capital of family firms. Our research contributes to the family business resilience literature by showing how developing resilience at an individual level (social capital) fosters organizational level (family business) resilience. The interactions between the three dimensions of social capital are particularly interesting for sustainable family business theorists. We show that financial capital mediates the impact of human and social capital in order to strengthen firms’ resilience. Our research also has implications for the international entrepreneurship literature: we found that international contacts provide family businesses in crisis with strong social support together with access to strategic opportunities at the local level. Future research could focus on the direct and indirect impacts of several dimensions of family capital in order to test which configuration of family capital leads to the greatest resilience. Studies could also further explore the impact of the network of international contacts in the strategic renewal of resilient family firms by identifying international opportunities.

Keywords

Organizational resilience Political transition Family business Family capital Qualitative methods 

Résumé

Comment l’entreprise familiale peut-elle se montrer résiliente dans un environnement d’affaires turbulent? Nous puisons nos arguments de la théorie de l’entreprise familiale durable pour mettre en évidence le rôle du capital familial (capital humain, social et financier) dans la résilience d’un échantillon d’entreprises familiales. Nous avons collecté des données à travers des entretiens semi-directifs avec les managers de quatre entreprises familiales tunisiennes après la révolution politique entre 2011 et 2014. Cette révolution a déclenché une instabilité économique sévère mettant à l’épreuve la capacité des entreprises à être résiliente. Nos résultats montrent que le capital social des entreprises familiales (composé aussi bien par des contacts locaux que des contacts internationaux) contribue fortement à la capacité des entreprises à absorber les chocs (capacité d’adaptation), réallouer les ressources existantes (capacité de renouvellement) et internaliser certaines pratiques permettant aux entreprises de faire face aux perturbations futures (capacité d’appropriation). Nous constatons également que le capital financier est. en grande partie déterminé par le capital social et le capital humain des entreprises familiales. Notre recherche contribue à la littérature sur la résilience de l’entreprise familiale en montrant comment le développement de la résilience au niveau individuel (capital social des membres de la famille) contribue au développement de la résilience à un niveau organisationnel. De même, les interactions entre les trois dimensions du capital social sont particulièrement intéressantes pour les théoriciens de l’entreprise familiale durable. Nous montrons, en effet, que le capital financier médiatise les effets du capital humain et social afin de renforcer la résilience des entreprises. Notre recherche présente également des implications pour la littérature sur l’entreprenariat international en montrant que les contacts internationaux des entreprises familiales apportent un soutien social considérable à l’entreprise en situation de crise mais aussi offrent la possibilité d’accès à des opportunités stratégiques à l’échelle locale. Les recherches futures pourraient se concentrer sur les impacts directs et indirects des différentes dimensions du capital familial afin de tester la meilleure configuration du capital familial conduisant à une plus grande résilience. Les recherches futures pourraient également explorer l’impact des contacts internationaux sur le renouvellement stratégique des entreprises familiales résilientes et ce, à travers l’identification d’opportunités à l’échelle internationale.

Mots clés

Résilience organisationnelle Transition politique Enterprise familiale Capital familial Méthodes qualitatives 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IHEC SfaxSfaxTunisia
  2. 2.ICD Business School ParisParisFrance
  3. 3.Group ESC ClermontClermont-FerrandFrance

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