Long-Term Success of Family Firms: Investigating Specific Aspects of Firm-level Entrepreneurship and Individual-level Antecedents

Dissertation of the University of St.Gallen, School of Management, Economics, Law, Social Sciences and International Affairs to obtain the title of Doctor of Philosophy in Management


Long-term success of family firms is of utmost social and economic importance. Three of its determinants are in the center of this Dissertation: firm-level entrepreneurial orientation (EO), managers' entrepreneurial behavior, and value-creating attitudes of non-family employees. Each determinant and respective research gaps are addressed by one paper of this cumulative dissertation.
Referring to firm-level EO, scholars claim that EO is a main antecedent to firms' both short- and long-term success. However, family firms seem to be successful across generations despite rather low levels of EO. The first paper addresses this paradox by investigating EO patterns of long-lived family firms in three Swiss case studies. The main finding is that the key to success is not to be as entrepreneurially as possible all the time, but to continuously adapt the EO profile depending on internal and external factors. Moreover, the paper suggest news subcategories to different EO dimensions. With regard to entrepreneurial behavior of managers, there is a lack of knowledge how individual-level and organizational-level factors affect its evolvement.
The second paper addresses this gap by investigating a sample of 403 middle-level managers from both family and non-family firms. It introduces psychological ownership of managers as individual-level antecedent and investigates the interaction with organizational factors. As a central insight, management support is found to strengthen the psychological ownership-entrepreneurial behavior relationship.
The third paper is based on the fact that employees' justice perceptions are established antecedents of value-creating employee attitudes such as affective commitment and job satisfaction. Even though family firms are susceptible to non-family employees´ perceptions of injustice, corresponding research is scarce. Moreover, the mechanism connecting justice perceptions and positive outcomes is still unclear. Addressing these gaps, the analysis of a sample of 310 non-family employees reveals that psychological ownership is a mediator in the relationships between distributive justice perceptions and both affective commitment and job satisfaction.
Altogether, the three papers offer valuable contributions to family business literature with respect to EO, entrepreneurial behavior, and value-creating employee attitudes. Thus, they increase current understanding about important determinants of family firms' long-term success, while opening up numerous ways of future research.



Recommended Citation

Sieger, Philipp: Long-term Success of Family Firms: Investigating Specific Aspects of Firm-level Entrepreneurship and Individual-level Antecedents, Universität St.Gallen, Thesis. St.Gallen : Niedermann Druck, 2011.


*What is a DOI?