Socioemotional wealth, passaggio generazionale e sviluppo dell'impresa familiare. Analisi di un caso aziendale (Socioemotional wealth, generational transfer and development of the family business. Analysis of a business case)

  • Mauro Dini
  • Annalisa Sentuti
  • Tonino Pencarelli
Keywords: socio-emotional wealth; family-owned businesses; family business succession; economic crisis; tourism business; hotel business


Purpose of the paper: This paper aims to offer an empirical application of the Socio-emotional Wealth perspective (SEW) through the analysis of how a third-generation family-owned business faced an economic crisis and recovered its performance.

Methodology: The empirical research is based on a case study in the hospitality industry. The data collection involved a questionnaire based on the FIBER model (Berrone et al., 2012), useful for capturing and measuring the different dimensions of SEW, and in depth interviews aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the context in which the phenomena took place.

Findings: According to previous research, second or later-generation family firms are less attached to the business and more interested in financial performance than first-generation family firms. However, our findings show that some particular conditions can strengthen family members’ emotional ties to and identification with the firm over the generations. Furthermore, when the company performs poorly, the family business owners become aware that recovering financial performance becomes a priority in order to save the firm. Thus, the greater orientation towards economic and financial goals may not necessarily be dictated by a lower SEW level, but by the desire to safeguard the company, which continues to be perceived as a source of financial and socio-emotional wealth.

Research limitations: A single case study limits the generalizability of the findings.

Practical implications: On a theoretical level, our research integrates the literature on the SEW perspective, offering some conceptual and methodological considerations. At a managerial level, it confirms the importance of the succession process, thus reaffirming the need for adequate planning.

Originality of the paper: While several research studies estimate the SEW level using proxy variables, this article measures the SEW dimensions by applying the FIBER model combined with in-depth interviews, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the context and offering a new perspective for investigating these issues.