Next gens leadership conundrum: The emotional experience of taking up leadership roles and claiming authority in family-owned businesses

Moura, Mariana (2023) Next gens leadership conundrum: The emotional experience of taking up leadership roles and claiming authority in family-owned businesses. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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This study provides a systems psycho-dynamic exploration of leadership development in next generation members of family-owned businesses. Utilising biographic narrative interpretive method (BNIM) and grounded theory, it analyses five self-narrated life stories of family business successors. The research uncovers how the interplay between family dynamics, family and business systems, and societal context shapes leadership development. Key findings reveal that the family system, often reflective of the business’s emphasis on efficiency, success, and competition, profoundly influence the leadership trajectories of the next generation. Three distinct relational patterns emerge. Firstly, those who are seen as “natural successors” are required to conform to family expectations, enclose subjectivity, and renounce authorship (“the restrained”). Other patterns suggest that if an adequate facilitating environment is offered, rivalry and competition can encourage intellectual and creative capacities and foster a desire to later join the business (“self-authorised competitors”). However, if not being seen as a potential successor is seen as rejection, this may trigger unresolved feelings of envy and jealousy, which in turn spur a narcissistic need to “prove the world wrong” (“the rebellious”). These three patterns are understood as transitory states of mind, or momentary related positions, that are dynamic in nature. The concept of “virtuous betrayal” underscores the need for next generation leaders to challenge and transcend established familial norms and covert agreements, fostering personal growth, differentiation, and the development of personal authority whilst preserving a sense of interdependence amongst family members. The research suggests that successful succession and the assertion of authority by the next generation are contingent upon resolving the Oedipal complex and providing adequate reflective space within the family system. Additional findings connect leadership development to the capacity to disentangle oneself from unconscious group alliances, which enables next generations to challenge the meritocratic ideal and maintain a more realistic perspective of the wider social context.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Essex in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust for the Professional Doctorate in Consultation and the Organisation
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Consultation and the Organisation, D10D
Subjects: Families > Families - Psychology
Management & Economics > Leadership - Social Behaviour
Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Consultation
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services

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