The Intersection of Spirituality and Succession in Family Firms: A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda


The Intersection of Spirituality and Succession in Family Firms: A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda

Aiza Asi - Michela Floris - Giuseppe Argiolas

Purpose of the paper- This paper provides a systematic review of existing research related to the role of family firms’ spirituality and values in ensuring a successful succession.

Methodology- This study adopts a Systematic Literature Review (SLR), retrieving articles from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science and Google Scholar databases, covering the last 30 years of scholarly contributions on the theme. Close adhering to SLR guidelines, the systematic review analyses 115 articles published in leading journals.

Findings- Results show five main themes and two sub-themes that synthesize the content of sampled articles based on three different streams: the integrality of people (spirituality as an integral part of human experience), the reciprocity (the relationship between family and business in the family business), and the coexistence between economic logic and spiritual logic. These three constructs are moderated by the quality of relations between the predecessor and successor. Finally, this study identifies a rich research agenda.

 Practical implicationsThis study is particularly tailored either for the non-self-identified or self-identified spiritually-oriented family firms and to the researchers to advance study in the field. Family firms serve as fertile ground for spirituality, hence nourishing a family’s legacy through the bond of mutual respect. This paradigm change, beginning with an integral perspective of a leader as a person, regards his leadership as part of one’s human development. The reciprocity between family and business through spiritual values continues when each generation of the predecessor and the successor enter into a formal collaboration and co-create business policies, praxis and vision-update that express family values business. Without ignoring the generational differences in terms of how they put preferences on different values, its continuity across generations happens when the owning family holds occasions to celebrate values. The economic and spiritual logic is reflected when owners’ synergy enables them to generate business policies and practices coherent with family values.

 Limitations of the research- The main drawback is that the examined literature is not exhaustive because it is based only on two databases and focused exclusively on articles. Future research can consult other databases and combine them to obtain a more inclusive dataset, considering books, proceedings, and other documents that can improve the analysis.

Originality- This paper provides the first systematic literature review on spirituality in family business studies while investigating how it intersects with the problematic issue of succession.

#family firms #spirituality #succession #systematic literature review #values