Becoming The Boss: Discretion And Postsuccession Success In Family Firms

J. R. Mitchell, Western University
Timothy A. Hart, Oklahoma State University
Sorin Valcea, Cleveland State University
David M. Townsend, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Family firms can enjoy substantial longevity. Ironically, however, they are often imperiled by the very process that is essential to this longevity. Using the concept of managerial discretion as a starting point, we use a human agency lens to introduce the construct of successor discretion as a factor that affects the family business succession process. While important in general, successor discretion is positioned as a particularly relevant factor for productively managing organizational renewal in family businesses. This study represents a foundation for future empirical research investigating the role of agency in entrepreneurial action in the family business context, which consequently can contribute to the larger research literature on succession and change.