Socially Responsible Processes of Small Family Business Owners: Exploratory Evidence from the National Family Business Survey

Margaret A. Fitzgerald, George W. Haynes, Holly L. Schrank, Sharon M. Danes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The purpose of this exploratory study is to ascertain the impact of family, business, and community factors on the socially responsible processes of small family businesses, and investigate the influence of financial success and attitudes toward community on these processes. The research is grounded in the Sustainable Family Business Theory, which has been enhanced to include the interactive and collaborative action, both economically and socially, of family businesses and their communities. Data are from the National Family Business Survey, 2000 panel. The processes studied include interpersonal transactions in the form of community leadership and holding an elected or appointed office, and resource transactions in the form of providing financial or technical assistance in community development, and providing donations to local programs. Models assessed the probability and intensity of assistance provided by family businesses. The findings indicate that the social and economic climate of the community may contribute to the performance of responsible actions by businesses because human, social and financial capital resources from both the family and the business can be used to solve problems in the community. The most robust result was that individuals with very positive attitudes about their local communities were more likely to serve in leadership positions and make financial and technical contributions to the community. Business owners in economically vulnerable communities were willing to assume more responsibility to fill leadership positions in the community and make substantial contributions of financial and technical assistance than those in less vulnerable communities. Policymakers must recognize the many contributions of family businesses and forge rural developmentpolicies that not only help sustain existing businesses and fuel the engine of economic growth, but encourage human capital development, and, in turn, enhance the contributions of the family and the business to their community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-551
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Small Business Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010


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