Developing capabilities for sustainability in family owned SMEs: An emerging market scenario




Family-Owned Businesses; Continuity, Sustainability, Stewardship, Spirituality, Family Structure


The academic discourse on ‘family’ perpetuity in family-owned businesses (FOB) is still burgeoning.  Current findings suggest the importance of family control and family inter-generational sustainability in family-owned businesses. Though literature in family perpetuity and sustainability is well documented from the advanced economies, there is a scarcity of insights from emerging markets where this research relates.  The study, therefore, sought to investigate, understand and interpret the underlying drivers of sustainability in small and medium family businesses using the stewardship theory paradigm and relying on evidence from an emerging market economy the Nigerian family business environment. A qualitative method with 41 in-depth interviews involving owners and managers of family-owned small and medium businesses was conducted. The study empirically shows that there is an interrelationship between family structure and business sustainability, hence the practice of polygamy was found to be inimical to family business success and sustainability. The study also showed that the element of spirituality arising from the ideals and values of the owning family is a significant factor for ensuring family wellbeing and business sustainability, and founding owner characteristics (industry experience) and impacts positively on the business performance and continuity. The study confirmed that the stewardship of non-family member employees within the business is provisional stewardship as non-family members rely on other incentives from the owning family members to behave as stewards.  Building on the stewardship theory, the paper develops a model of sustainability for small and medium family businesses. The study contributes to the theoretical literature on stewardship and family business sustainability




How to Cite

Akume, B., & Iguisi, O. (2020). Developing capabilities for sustainability in family owned SMEs: An emerging market scenario. International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science (2147- 4478), 9(6), 24–36.



Strategic Approach to Business Ecosystem and Organizational Development