How family firm advisors understand their clients: a mixed-methods analysis of social capital signaling in web-based marketing


Michael A. Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality

Additional Department

Marketing and Professional Sales

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Purpose: Despite similarities, research across family business and business advising forwards contradictory conclusions when considering family business advising. The authors seek to integrate these literature and in doing so uncover both the hurdles facing family business advisors attempting to adapt tools developed in corporate advising to the family business context as well as the potential for greater integration of these streams in ways that contribute to both family business and advising research and practice. Design/methodology/approach: Primary data were collected both in the form of a survey questionnaire and website marketing content. In the survey, 47 family business advisors evaluated the distinctiveness of their family business clients across structural, cognitive and relational social capital dimensions. Motivated by unexpected findings, a content analysis of advisor websites uncovered specific marketing themes that illustrate the divides between family business advising and scholarship. Findings: Family business advisors reliably acknowledge structural and cognitive social capital as preeminently characterizing the distinctiveness of their family business clients. Expanding on this, the authors’ findings suggest that the urgency signaled in advisor marketing via their websites may inspire tactics misaligned with the long-term time horizon typically characterizing family businesses strategy. Originality/value: The few family business advising studies that exist predominantly consider post-hoc evaluation of advising by family business clients. The primary data the authors collect are unique in the literature in that the data detail how family business advisors perceive and engage with potential clients.

Journal Title

Journal of Family Business Management

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