Featured research (4)
Business family members face challenges related to exposure to diverse role expectations and systems logics, the management of which often results in situations of high complexity, dilemmas, and paradoxes. To address these issues, in this paper we combine key insights from social systems theory with systemic family coaching tools such as "internal maps," the "expectation carrousel," and the "tetralemma." In drawing on an illustrative example from a family business succession planning context, we demonstrate how systemic approaches may help business family members to (a) creatively reflect on both the personal and interpersonal expectations they are confronted with and (b) manage issues of decision-making in dilemmatic or paradoxical situations.
The field of paradox studies keeps struggling to put the notion of paradox into the very centre of organizational life and managerial decision-making, with mixed success. We argue that this research ambition can be realized much more effectively by anchoring the field in three interrelated conceptual approaches which build on paradox as the paradigmatic point of departure. These approaches include Spencer Brown’s form calculus, Niklas Luhmann’s systems and organization theory, and the traditional Indian logical construct of tetralemma. In the proposed argument, paradox constitutes the very identity of organizations as (re-entries of) distinctions drawn in the environment; it is actualized in every act of organizational decision communication, as well as in the process of the continual vanishing and renewal of such acts. In this conception of organizational life, the key challenge is to debunk false distinctions by using tetralemmatization strategies that entail a radical questioning of the problematic observational perspectives.
This paper's point of departure is that business families are permanently confronted with a dual function: They engage in typical family relations yet also have formal decision‐making processes for business and family strategy. However, large business families—which may consist of several hundred shareholders who own one or more family businesses—are confronted with an additional challenge. Alongside being simultaneously a family and an organization, they also have to establish and maintain notions of membership and modes of communication between distantly related shareholders. This we have called family network or family 3.0. The challenges involved in initiating, shaping and maintaining such networks require new strategic reconsideration in the family itself and an extension of the existing theoretical observations regarding family businesses, thereby establishing the basis for a better understanding of large‐scale business families. For this, we try to combine family business research, organization studies and systems theory.
Purpose This conceptual article aims to contribute to the design of a theory of family-influenced firms by a framework for the management of business-family dilemmas. Design/methodology/approach It combines systemic principles with the tetralemma, a tool from ancient Indian logic that families and businesses can use to manage and reframe dilemmas without dissolving the dilemmatic tensions or blurring their boundaries. Findings In applying the tetralemma, the article offers a range of suggestions, such as observing business and family as two discrete, yet codependent, social systems and envisioning conceptual and methodological imports from codependency research and therapy into family business research and practice. Originality/value The article proposes a framework for the selective and flexible navigation of family-business tensions without dissolving them or blurring their boundaries.
- Witten Institute of Family Business
About Heiko Kleve
- Heiko Kleve currently works at the Wirtschaftswissenschaft/Wittener Institut für Familienunternehmen (WIFU), Universität Witten/Herdecke. Heiko does research in Systems Theory, Sociological Theory and Social Theory. Their current project is 'Systemtheorie der Unternehmerfamilie'