Tension, Adjustment Strategies, and Family Business Success for Single and Dual Role Managers

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Shih, An-ti
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Maurice M. Macdonald
Linda S. Niehm
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Human Development and Family Studies

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies focuses on the interactions among individuals, families, and their resources and environments throughout their lifespans. It consists of three majors: Child, Adult, and Family Services (preparing students to work for agencies serving children, youth, adults, and families); Family Finance, Housing, and Policy (preparing students for work as financial counselors, insurance agents, loan-officers, lobbyists, policy experts, etc); and Early Childhood Education (preparing students to teach and work with young children and their families).


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies was formed in 1991 from the merger of the Department of Family Environment and the Department of Child Development.

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  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Child Development (predecessor)
  • Department of Family Environment (predecessor)

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The purpose of this research was to understand if the family or business tension of Dual Role Managers (DRM) is different than that of Single Role Managers (SRM) of family business, and the influence of various adjustment strategies that could affect family and business success. A related goal was to understand the impact of gender on family business managers' success. The study relied on data collected from 294 households collected at two time points--the 1997 Wave 1 and 2000 Wave 2 survey panels from the National Family Business Study (NFBS). In the NFBS, the household manager was identified as the person who takes care of most meal preparation, laundry, cleaning, scheduling and family activities, and oversees child care. Therefore DRM were both household manager and business manager for the family business.

Prior research has not analyzed the potential influence of family business adjustment strategies for influencing conflict and tension that may vary between DRM and SRM and also predict family or business success. The causal model developed for the study posited that adjustment strategies established in Wave 1 influence tensions in Wave 2 that affect both family and business goal attainment. The main interest concerned whether DRM versus SRM status moderates the causal process, which was tested by comparing multiple regression coefficients for DRM/SRM subgroups. Multiple regression analysis procedures involved estimating the effects of adjustments on tensions, and also the effects of tensions and adjustments directly for family business success. Other predictors of family business success included family system and business system contextual variables such as managers' characteristics and business size.

Family success measures included family income, a scale for family functionality, and another scale for family goal achievement. Business success measures were business profit, perceptions of business success reported by the business manager, and another subjective measure concerning business goal achievement. By selecting those regression models that were statistically significant, six causal models for family business success were developed with path analysis. For DRM there was support for the hypothesis that tensions decrease family business success (family functionality, family goal achievement, and business goal achievement). However tension decreased SRM success only for family functionality, which suggested that DRM seemed to be more easily influenced by tension level for family business success than SRM. The effects of DRM adjustment strategies were more positive for family functionality than for SRM: for SRM the adjustment strategy of reallocating family resources to business increases unfairness tension and thus indirectly reduces family functionality; but for DRM using volunteer help did not affect unfairness tension, yet their use of volunteer help increased family functionality. With respect to business profit, SRM adjustment through hiring outside help was successful, whereas DRM use of intertwining tasks as an adjustment strategy reduced their business profit. Thus the main support for the hypothesis that DRM would be more able to manage both family and business than SRM was that DRM use of volunteer help had a direct positive effect on family functionality even though that strategy did not reduce unfairness tension. There were no results to support the hypothesis that female gender was associated with greater tensions and different adjustment strategies for success in the family and business.

The implications for marital and family therapy with DRM include advice to rely on volunteer help instead of intertwining tasks for improving family functionality. For SRM, reallocating family resources to business should be avoided because household managers associate that reallocation with feelings of unfairness.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009