Family scholars have emphasized that, for any given demanding situation, families appraise how difficult it is or will be, and their subjective appraisals or meanings about the demands play an important role in the resilience process. However, they have paid much less attention to empirical testing of the issue, especially in the context of business-owning families which are often faced with diverse business demands and conflicts between family and business systems. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of the family meanings about demands in the resilience process of business-owning families by examining potential pathways of family meanings' effect on family adjustment. Guided by the Family Adjustment and Adaptation Response (FAAR) theory, a hypothesized conceptual model was developed based on the conceptual relationships among the four main constructs of family resilience: situational meanings of demands that are represented by business-owning families' subjective difficulty (i.e., tension levels) in managing demands, coping behaviors represented by owning families' socially responsible behaviors for community betterment, resources represented by perceived business success as an intangible type of resources, and family adjustment represented by owning families' functional integrity. The hypothesized model was tested using structural equation modeling procedures. A subsample of 187 business-owning couples from the National Family Business Panel data was drawn for the study. Results showed that business-owning families' subjective difficulty in managing demands was directly associated with their family adjustment in a negative way rather than indirectly associated with adjustment through the mediating role of coping behaviors or resources. This study provides support for the FAAR theory's assumption that a certain level of tension or subjective difficulty threatens the family's existing stable functioning at the demanding times. This study's results imply that family firm consultants need to pay attention to how an owning family emotionally and cognitively perceive or interpret their difficulties with demands in the consulting process, rather than focusing only on the task-oriented issues. Family therapists' relational and people-oriented expertise might be helpful in lessening the negative effect of owning families' subjective difficulty with demands on family adjustment.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Sharon M. Danes, PhD. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 147 pages.
The effect of family meanings about demands on family adjustment in business-owning families.
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