Understanding Family Member Employees’ Resilience Capacity

Dina M Abdelzaher, Angie Abdelzaher, L. Jean Harrison-Walker


A number of studies have shown that family businesses are more likely to survive in times of turbulence compared to non-family firms, which is interesting given that they tend to be lesser resourced and more process-driven than their traditional counterparts. We specifically explore organizational moderators of the relationship between family member employees’ resilience and consistency of performance at times of turbulence.  Drawing from the resilience, social capital theory, and family business literatures, we argue that the positive relationship between employee resilience capacity and consistency of employee performance is moderated by (a) the firms’ transparency culture, (b) clearly defined reward/penalty systems, and (c) the number of siblings.  The proposed model conceptualizes two types of resilience (trait vs enabled) as comprising resilience capacity. Further, the effects of firm life cycle stages on fluctuations in resilience capacity and the relative dependence on trait versus enabled resilience over time are explored.   A proactive awareness of the organizational factors that can affect the relationship between resilient capacity and performance can help family business owners strategize before times of turbulence occur, which is often the time when the survival of the firm is tested.


Turbulence; Resilience; Family Firms; Sustainability; Employee Perforamance

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