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Deconstructing Socioemotional Wealth: Social Wealth and Emotional Wealth as Core Properties of Family Firms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2022

Wenting Chen
Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, China
Abby Jingzi Zhou
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China
Steven Shijin Zhou*
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China
Peter S. Hofman
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China
Xueru Yang
South China Agricultural University, China
Corresponding author: Steven Shijin Zhou (


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.


社会情感财富(SEW) 是一个多维度的概念,主要指家族企业中家庭成员之间、家族之间、家族与组织、以及社会之间的非经济类财富。这一概念在家族企业研究中成为主流。本文回顾了与社会情感财富相关的文献、该概念对家族企业行为的解释力和家族企业的异质性。我们发现虽然用社会情感财富可以解释家族企业与非家族企业在行为上的差异,但它在不同研究中的操作化存在很大差异。即使在为数不多的直接测量SEW的文献中,我们也没发现清晰且一致的解释效度。此外,由于在亚洲国家(例如日本、韩国与中国)的研究较为有限,这一概念在不同制度与文化环境下有普遍的解释效度也未可知。本文通过讨论SEW的不同关键维度——即情感财富与社会财富,以加强我们对家族企业行为和异质性的理解,并提出了未来研究的若干方向。

Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The International Association for Chinese Management Research

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ACCEPTED BY Editor-in-Chief Arie Y. Lewin



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