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Socioemotional wealth and human resource policies: effects on family firm performance

Juan David Peláez-León (Departamento de Administración y Organizaciones, Facultad de Ciencias de la Administración, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia)
Gregorio Sánchez-Marín (Department of Economics and Business, Faculty of Economics, Business and Tourism, University of Alcala, Madrid, Spain)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 7 October 2021

Issue publication date: 20 January 2022




This study analyses whether human resource management (HRM), through the use of four sets of high-performance work policies (HPWPs) (i.e. selection, training, motivation and opportunity policies), mediates the relationship between socioemotional wealth (SEW)—defined as a unique set of nonfinancial family goals—and firm financial performance when family firms face a high-risk context.


Hypotheses were statistically tested using a structural equation modeling (SEM) methodology with a cross-sectional sample of 196 medium-sized and private family firms in a high-risk context in Spain.


The results indicate that the relationship between SEW and financial performance in family firms is fully mediated by the use of HPWPs, especially by training and motivation HR policies. The importance given to preserving SEW influences the use of four sets of HPWPs when family firms show clear evidence of being confronted by a financial decline (i.e. a high-risk context). However, to improve their financial results to avoid the firm's failure and thus the loss of their SEW, only those HR policies that focus on training and motivation made a significant and positive contribution to the firm financial performance.


This study contributes to the literature on family firms and HRM by adopting an alternative theoretical framework to understand how the importance of nonfinancial family goals may affect employee structures and management policies, thereby improving financial performance in family firms.



This paper forms part of a special section “Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Growth (ACIEK)”, guest edited by Alba Yela Aránega and Rafael Castaño Sánchez.

Funding: This work had financial support from the Spanish Government (Research Projects ECO2014-54301-P and ECO2017-84209-P).


Peláez-León, J.D. and Sánchez-Marín, G. (2022), "Socioemotional wealth and human resource policies: effects on family firm performance", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 109-135.



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