Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 April 2022
The concept of socioemotional wealth (SEW) has become a dominant perspective in family business studies. In this article, we review the SEW literature, the explanatory power of SEW in family firm behavior, and the heterogeneity of family firms. Although we find that SEW distinguishes the behavior of family firms from that of nonfamily firms, the concept has been used and operationalized differently across studies. The few studies that measure SEW directly do not find clear and consistent explanatory power of the construct. Moreover, not many studies are conducted in Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and China, raising the question as to whether the concept applies equally across institutional and cultural contexts. This article takes a pragmatic perspective on SEW by discussing and distinguishing between key dimensions of social wealth and emotional wealth, which we believe can enhance understanding of the behavior and heterogeneity of family businesses. Based on our deconstruction of the SEW concept, we propose various directions of future research.
ACCEPTED BY Editor-in-Chief Arie Y. Lewin