Boss and Parent, Employee and Child: Work‐Family Roles and Deviant Behavior in the Family Firm

Date01 July 2013
AuthorKimberly A. Eddleston,Roland E. Kidwell,Joseph T. Cooper
Published date01 July 2013
KIMBERLY A. EDDLESTON Northeastern University
Boss and Parent, Employee and Child: Work-Family
Roles and Deviant Behavior in the Family Firm
The work-family literature examines the degree
to which work and family roles can be
segmented or integrated by an individual. In
the family f‌irm, the requirement that work
and family roles be integrated creates tension
for family employees, particularly those who
prefer higher degrees of segmentation between
the roles. Integrating family f‌irm with family
relations research, this article explores potential
diff‌iculties experienced by family employees in
making transitions from their family role to
work role and the potential forfamily employees
to engage in deviant behavior due to unresolved
conf‌lict and ambiguity from work-family role
integration. These diff‌iculties, we argue, are
in part due to problems in separating role
expectations when they come from indistinct
sources; that is, when the boss and father, for
example, are the same person. We explain how
the tensions between work and family can create
a cycle of deviance in the family and family f‌irm
The nature of a family-owned and -operated
business requires that boundaries between work
and family be considerably more permeable than
Department of Management and Marketing, College of
Business, Department 3275, University of Wyoming,
Laramie, WY 82071 (
D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern Uni-
versity, 219 Hayden Hall, Boston, MA 02115-5000.
Key Words: family relationships, family stress and conf‌lict,
family-work issues.
in a nonfamily f‌irm (Kets de Vries, 1993;
Sundaramurthy & Kreiner, 2008), potentially
leading to increased levels of stewardship,
social capital, and care for the f‌irm by
family members (Davis, Allen, & Hayes, 2010;
Eddleston & Kellermanns, 2007). The lack of a
clear boundary between work and family can,
however, also promote interpersonal conf‌lict
among family members, which often results
in higher levels of stress, negative emotions,
and destructive behaviors (Kellermanns &
Eddleston, 2004, 2007).
Recently, researchers have begun to acknowl-
edge the propensity for some family employees
to display destructive, deviant behaviors (e.g.,
Bennett, Thau, & Scouten, 2005; Eddleston
& Kidwell, 2012a, 2012b; Kidwell, Eddleston,
Cater, & Kellermanns, 2013; Kidwell, Keller-
manns, & Eddleston, 2012). This research has
primarily focused on why family f‌irms are not
immune to workplace deviance and what family
relationship factors could predict family employ-
ees’ deviant behavior. A study by Kidwell et al.
(2012) showed that a signif‌icant portion of fam-
ily f‌irms admit to employing a family member
who is an impediment to the business; that is,
someone who is employed based on family sta-
tus rather than their skills and qualif‌ications and
who harms the f‌irm. Researchers in that study
dubbed this phenomenon ‘‘the Fredo effect,’’
referring to the incompetent middle brother from
The Godfather books and movies.
This recent stream of research on deviance
in family f‌irms suggests that the overlap
between the family and business systems creates
Family Relations 62 (July 2013): 457 – 471 457

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT