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Relationship coordination between successor and top management team in family business under the background of social embeddedness: a case study of trans-generational entrepreneurship

Fei Fei Wang (Hangzhou Dianzi University, Hangzhou, China)
Jiong Wu (Glorious Sun School of Business and Management, Donghua University, Shanghai, China)
Xiaoxian Gong (Shandong Technology and Business University, Yantai, China)

Nankai Business Review International

ISSN: 2040-8749

Article publication date: 25 August 2022

Issue publication date: 16 March 2023




Aiming at the key issue of interpersonal interaction process between successors and top management teams in the context of family business trans-generational entrepreneurship, this paper aims to explore the motivation, action and results of interpersonal conflict between these two subjects mentioned above.


This paper uses grounded theoretical research methods based on the research objects of three family businesses with both inheritance and transformation needs.


Motivation difference, mediation mode and relationship utilization, that is, the successor and top management team take the goal-orientation, interest orientation and rational tendency as the starting point for relationship coordination. Then it mediates the interpersonal conflicts through compromise, collaboration and compliance, and ultimately provide successors with resources, opportunities, capabilities and motivation advantages to promote trans-generational entrepreneurship. Second, the path of relationship coordination comes from the background of social embedding, that is, the motivation difference comes from the embedding of motivation seeking, the mediation mode comes from the embedding of mediation elements and the relationship utilization comes from the embedding of relationship optimization. The research conclusions not only provide a theoretical framework for family businesses to solve the problems of interpersonal conflicts faced by family businesses but also have practical guiding significance for the trans-generational entrepreneurship.


There are two theoretical contributions in this study. First, the research starting point of social embeddedness theory from the perspective of interpersonal relationships at the microlevel is revised. Since Granovetter (Granovetter, 1985) put forward the theory of social embeddedness, its research scope has been gradually expanded, but the mainstream research in the past focused on analyzing the social network embeddedness of enterprises to obtain social capital from the macro- and meso-level (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). In fact, this may deviate from the essential interpretation of Granovetter’s theory of social embeddedness, while this study returns to the study of interpersonal relationships. Second, a theoretical model of relationship coordination for successors and top management team is put forward in general. On the basis of the motivation, action and result of interpersonal interaction between the successor and top management team, the interpersonal coordination action path and embedded logic during trans-generational entrepreneurship of family businesses are revealed, which enriched the research scope of social embedded theory in family business.



Wang, F.F., Wu, J. and Gong, X. (2023), "Relationship coordination between successor and top management team in family business under the background of social embeddedness: a case study of trans-generational entrepreneurship", Nankai Business Review International, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 77-101.



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