Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSE) - Odisee
Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSE) - Odisee

Successful support of change in family businesses

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CenSE researchers: Bart Henssen, Johan Lambrecht, Wouter Broekaert
Duration: September 2013 – December 2015
Financing: PWO
Partners: VOKA / Halle-Vilvoorde Chamber of Commerce, VOKA / East Flanders Chamber of Commerce

With this research we wanted to investigate to what extent change processes can be supported more ("my” and / or “our” change process) by (non) family employees in family businesses and how psychological ownership can contribute to successful change processes in family businesses.

Psychological Ownership (Psychological Ownership or PSO) is understood to mean: the feeling that something (eg a task, a company) belongs to "me" or "us" (Pierce et al., 2001). Specifically, in this project we wanted to develop an instrument with which family businesses can determine to what extent their change processes are supported by their stakeholders. We did this by developing a website with a digital questionnaire for self-scoring (a so-called "self-scan"). The underlying database of this website was based on measurements (surveys and in-depth interviews) at successful and less successful family businesses and also on an extensive collection of data i.v.m. "Best practices" for successful change processes. By linking the score of the self-scan to the database, an automated, tailor-made report with possible points for improvement can be generated for a wide group of family businesses. Finally, we wanted to investigate how PSO can be promoted in family businesses through in-depth interviews with familial entrepreneurs . We provide this information in the form of a book.

Despite the fact that much has already been written about change processes, in practice more than 70% percent of change processes in companies fail (eg Davidson, 1993). This is no different for family businesses. In addition, family businesses still have specific challenges such as managing the relationships between family and non-family employees. The question is therefore why so many change processes still fail in family businesses and how the success rate can be increased.

An answer can be found to the extent that PSO is stimulated with regard to the change process. When employees are offered the opportunity to feel like owners, they gain in their self-esteem and pride in the results achieved. They feel more connected to the family business and have a more active participation in change processes (Lambrechts et al., 2009 a; b), which increases the chances of success of the change process. However, we still know too little about how PSO can be stimulated in family businesses.

Since 77% of the companies in Flanders are classified as a family business (IFB, 2012), and the failure of change processes entails considerable economic costs, the subject matter to be investigated seemed to be highly relevant.
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