Knowledge sharing under the influence of family: A Study of Small Knowledge-Intensive Family Firms in Scotland Volume One
Cunningham, J. (2013) Knowledge sharing under the influence of family: A Study of Small Knowledge-Intensive Family Firms in Scotland Volume One, no. 264.
The integration of the family and business worlds provides family firms with competitively unique capabilities. However, elements of entrenchment, strategic conservatism, and social pluralism, have become evident in many family-based organisations. The importance of balance in the cultural aspects of family business is therefore critical in achieving sustainable performance, of particular note being the role of organisational knowledge, facilitated by intra-organisational knowledge-sharing. The aim of this study is to understand the effects of path-goal leadership styles on intra-organisational knowledge-sharing in small family firms in Scotland. This work is rooted in the relativist research paradigm and results in a cultural picture of internal knowledge management practices, considering themes or patterns of leadership influence. A triangulation mixed-methods design is used, a type of design in which different but complementary data are collected. In this study, survey quantitative instruments (n = 109) test relationships between the behavioural variables of leadership style, familial influence, knowledge-sharing, and the performance variable of organisational efficacy. Concurrent with this analysis, qualitative interview data (n = 26) explore the phenomenon of social pluralism and multiple stakeholder perspectives existing within small family firms. Collecting both quantitative and qualitative data provides the opportunity for comparison to corroborate, contrast, or complement results. It is acknowledged that one form of data alone would be insufficient to achieve this. The findings of the work posit that leadership in small family firms is particularly sensitive to the perspectives and nature of individual organisational members; due to the diverse nature of family firm members this implies that great consideration is required on the part of leadership if performance enhancing knowledge-sharing is to be achieved. The main contribution of this work comes in the structured introduction of leadership and organisational knowledge theories to the realm of small family businesses. Moreover, analytical application of social power theories produces a relatively unique view on the internal culture of these relationally distinctive organisations.