Defense Date

Summer 6-29-2023

Degree Type





Business Administration

Chair or Co-Chair

James Meurs

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Bart Debicki


Joshua Palmer


Family firms, like other businesses, must innovate to remain relevant in the marketplace. Consequently, in recent years, the topic of family firm innovation has received increased attention from scholars and professionals alike. However, although the field has made substantial progress in investigating firm-level variables, less is known about how individual decision-makers in family businesses impact innovativeness. Specifically, despite broad recognition of leaders' high levels of decision autonomy in family business, limited studies have explored the effect of family firm leader individual differences on firm innovativeness.

Drawing on Upper Echelons Theory, this research contends that the dark personality traits (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy) of these leaders relate to various socioemotional wealth importance dimensions (SEWi), including family prominence, family continuity, and family enrichment. It also argues that, by prioritizing particular SEWi dimensions, leaders either positively or negatively influence firm innovativeness. As such, SEWi acts as a mediator between leader dark traits and firm innovativeness.

Available for download on Monday, July 10, 2028