Evolutionary Psychology, Organizational Culture, and the Family Firm

Nicholson, Nigel
May 2008
Academy of Management Perspectives;May2008, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p73
Academic Journal
The paper aims to show how evolutionary psychology can provide a fresh, compelling, and overarching explanatory framework for contrasting evidence about the special capabilities and vulnerabilities of family businesses, compared to nonfamily firms. It is argued that this encompasses the predominant theoretical frameworks, including the principal-agent perspective, and goes further to explain how family capital can create competitive advantage through the cultures family business leaders are able to build. The key elements are analyzed with case examples. A Darwinian analysis of kinship explains what is unique about family firms in terms of the identity of the business, its continuance over generations, and the character of its leadership. Throughout, the lessons and implications for nonfamily firms are discussed.


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