Managerial Risk-Taking Behaviors of CEOs in Family Businesses : Applying the Upper Echelons Theory on Family Businesses’ CEOs

University essay from Jönköping University/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Jönköping University/IHH, Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Background Nowadays the amount of research regarding the family business context has improved meaningfully. However, the field of family business could still be considered immature and with existing gaps in its literature. Thereby, several studies in the family business context have discussed the topic of risk-taking, which establishes its crucial importance as a topic within in the field. Thus, risk-taking is a topic of the utmost importance for any given organization in terms of growth regardless if it is a family firm or non-family firm. However, in order to enact such levels of growth, the firms’ CEOs are required to engage in managerial risk-taking behaviors. Here, managerial risktaking is explained through the lens of the upper echelons theory which aids to understand the different perspectives (e.g., age, tenure, education and prior work experiences) CEOs utilize to take risk in their daily activities. Purpose Through the identified fundamental experiences affecting the managerial risk-taking behaviors of CEOs, the purpose of this thesis, through the lens of the upper-echelons theory, is to research how CEOs experiences influence their managerial risk-taking behaviors inside family businesses. Method This thesis followed a quantitative research approach, by analyzing a sample of 100 family firms and their CEOs across Scandinavia. Here, the data was collected via the public database “Amadeus” and complemented with supporting sources such as “LinkedIn” and companies’ websites. Lastly, multiple statistical tests were performed to further asses and explore the collected data. Findings The final results of this thesis were unable to determine to what degree the independent variables of CEOs’ experiences (age, tenure, education and prior work experiences) influence the dependent variable of managerial risk-taking behaviors. In our case, the controlling variables of firm size and CEOs being part of the board showed to have a significant effect on the managerial risk-taking behaviors of CEOs.

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