Title: Insights on the self-identity of the descendants of family business owners: the case of German Unternehmerkinder

Authors: Julia K. De Groote; Sabrina Schell

Addresses: University of Bern, Engehaldenstr. 4, 3012 Bern, Switzerland ' University of Bern, Engehaldenstr. 4, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

Abstract: The objective of the present research is to use social identity theory to elucidate the self-identity development of the descendants of family business owners and the consequences of this identity development. We develop a new understanding of the self-identity of family business heirs using a sample of 179 German and Swiss-German young adults. The starting point of our investigation is the German concept of Unternehmerkind. In German, Unternehmerkind, which literally translates to 'child of an entrepreneur', contains aspects of different identities and group memberships. We argue that self-identification as an Unternehmerkind is not only driven by the fact of being a descendent of a family business owner but also has a subjective component. We find that self-identification is related to individual and firm-related influence factors. Furthermore, we show that the positive relationship between the self-identification as an Unternehmerkind and the affective commitment to the firm is mediated by socialisation.

Keywords: family business; affective commitment; Unternehmerkinder; social identity theory; Switzerland; Germany; business succession; socialisation; entrepreneurial orientation; self-identity; identity development; entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship; familiness.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2018.088684

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2018 Vol.33 No.1, pp.112 - 131

Received: 14 Jul 2016
Accepted: 07 Mar 2017

Published online: 04 Dec 2017 *

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