Family Orientation: Individual-Level Influences on Family Firm Outcomes


  • The authors thank Keith Brigham, Justin Craig, Todd Moss, and Lorraine Uhlaner for helpful suggestions on earlier drafts of this article. An earlier version was presented at the 7th Annual IFERA Conference, European Business School, Germany, June, 2007.

G. T. Lumpkin, Area of Management, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409; tel: 806-742-2154; fax: 806-742-3848;


The premise of this article is that to understand how family affects business, the issue of how individual family members relate to the family must also be addressed. To that end, we propose family orientation (FO) to assess the extent to which individuals perceive and value family involvement. Drawing on the family therapy literature, including Bowen's family systems theory and contextual family therapy, we identify and develop five dimensions of FO—tradition, stability, loyalty, trust, and interdependency. We also discuss factors that might affect an individual's FO score, how FO might enhance understanding of other family business processes and practices, and future research directions.