Family-Owned or -Managed Higher Education Institutions
Choi, Edward Woong Shik. “Family-Owned or -Managed Higher Education Institutions”, Boston College, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108708.
The family ownership context has been investigated across many business settings, within the manufacturing, trade, and services industries. The consensus among scholars has been that families that own and operate firms act in self-serving ways and frame organizational problems and make decisions with the primary goal of satisfying the family’s affective needs, i.e., preserve or augment what is referred to as socioemotional wealth. However, the theoretical reasoning of socioemotional wealth theory may fall apart in traditional university settings, where self-serving behaviors may lead to (pronounced) agency conflict. Universities have been long understood for their politicized governance environs in which multiple stakeholder groups have representation in decision-making. Within this reality, families involved in higher education management may be challenged to act self-servingly and protect or enhance certain socioemotional wealth. They may need to act in altruistic ways to avoid agency conflict. I investigate whether this is the case through a single, critical case study approach conducted at one family-owned or -managed university in India. I rely on what Yin (2003) refers to as “rival explanation as patterns” to test socioemotional theory relative to a rival theoretical framework. I ask the important question of whether this rival theory can address the limitations of socioemotional wealth theory when applied to the higher education context. As expected, findings generally suggest that where socioemotional wealth theory fails to capture family decision-making behaviors, the rival theory is relevant. This finding is important to consider and has several implications to theory, practice, and future research. Importantly, the findings support that current family-owned business theorizing is not enough to capture family decision-making behaviors in the context of traditional university settings.