To date various studies have been conducted on family business behaviour and how they survive around the world. This is owning to the high prevalence of family businesses in countries around the world and as a result the contribution family businesses make to factors such as GDP and employment. Sustainable family businesses that experience growth and diversification are therefore important in the economies that they operate in. Family businesses are however said to be risk averse when diversification opportunities arise, favouring to forgo growth in favour of the safe keeping of the families’ wealth, known as Socio-Emotional Wealth.
This study seeks to discover how family businesses grow by way of diversification and given the dynamics of families and the businesses they run, how do different generations perceive such growth. Thirteen successful family businesses took part in this study, which was exploratory and qualitative in design.
Using Socio-Emotional Wealth as a lens for understanding family business decision-making we are able to discover how this framework influences the preservation mind-set. Five themes emerged from the interview data indicating the importance families place on these themes, which included growth; diversification; autonomy; environmental constructs and generational perceptions. The themes that emerged influence the way in which the family business sees growth and ultimately decisions relating to Socio-Emotional Wealth.