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Where less is more: institutional voids and business families in Sub-Saharan Africa

Where less is more: institutional voids and business families in Sub-Saharan Africa
Where less is more: institutional voids and business families in Sub-Saharan Africa
Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to offer a conceptual interpretation of the role business families play in the institutional context of sub-Saharan Africa, characterised by voids within the formal institutional setting. Responding to calls to take a holistic perspective of the institutional environment, we develop a conceptual model, showcasing the emergence of relational familial logics within business families that enable these enterprising organisations to navigate the political, economic and socio-cultural terrain of this institutional context.

Design/methodology/approach
The authors undertake a review of extant literature on institutional theory, institutional voids, family business and business families and examine the relevance of these theoretical constructs in relation to the institutional environment of Sub-Saharan Africa. The authors offer tentative propositions within our conceptualisation, which the authors discuss in an inductive fashion.

Findings
The review underlines the relevance of informal political, economic and socio-cultural institutions within the sub-Saharan context, within which the family as an institution drives business families engagement in institutional entrepreneurship. In doing so, the authors argue business families are best positioned to navigate the existing Sub-Saharan African institutional context. The authors underline the critical relevance of the embeddedness of social relationships that underpin relational familial logic within the sub-Saharan African collectivist socio-cultural system.

Originality/value
By challenging the assumptions that institutional voids are empty spaces devoid of institutions, the authors offer an alternative view that institutional voids are spaces where there exists a misalignment of formal and informal institutions. The authors argue that in such contexts within Sub-Saharan Africa, business families are best placed to harness their embeddedness within extended family and community for entrepreneurial activity. The authors argue that family and business logics may complement each other rather than compete. The discussions and propositions have implications for future research on business families and more inclusive forms of family organisations.
Family firms, Institutional theory, Institutional voids, Institutions, Sub-Saharan Africa
1355-2554
158-174
Murithi, William
5ff20f2a-0d73-4eff-9f3c-bb8c4b1c5644
Vershinina, Natalia
9ba0c8e8-99f3-4d22-abb3-d0b8626ffe39
Rodgers, Peter
78e39552-3d65-4b44-b0e1-10043ba3ff5d
Murithi, William
5ff20f2a-0d73-4eff-9f3c-bb8c4b1c5644
Vershinina, Natalia
9ba0c8e8-99f3-4d22-abb3-d0b8626ffe39
Rodgers, Peter
78e39552-3d65-4b44-b0e1-10043ba3ff5d

Murithi, William, Vershinina, Natalia and Rodgers, Peter (2019) Where less is more: institutional voids and business families in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 26 (1), 158-174. (doi:10.1108/IJEBR-07-2017-0239).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to offer a conceptual interpretation of the role business families play in the institutional context of sub-Saharan Africa, characterised by voids within the formal institutional setting. Responding to calls to take a holistic perspective of the institutional environment, we develop a conceptual model, showcasing the emergence of relational familial logics within business families that enable these enterprising organisations to navigate the political, economic and socio-cultural terrain of this institutional context.

Design/methodology/approach
The authors undertake a review of extant literature on institutional theory, institutional voids, family business and business families and examine the relevance of these theoretical constructs in relation to the institutional environment of Sub-Saharan Africa. The authors offer tentative propositions within our conceptualisation, which the authors discuss in an inductive fashion.

Findings
The review underlines the relevance of informal political, economic and socio-cultural institutions within the sub-Saharan context, within which the family as an institution drives business families engagement in institutional entrepreneurship. In doing so, the authors argue business families are best positioned to navigate the existing Sub-Saharan African institutional context. The authors underline the critical relevance of the embeddedness of social relationships that underpin relational familial logic within the sub-Saharan African collectivist socio-cultural system.

Originality/value
By challenging the assumptions that institutional voids are empty spaces devoid of institutions, the authors offer an alternative view that institutional voids are spaces where there exists a misalignment of formal and informal institutions. The authors argue that in such contexts within Sub-Saharan Africa, business families are best placed to harness their embeddedness within extended family and community for entrepreneurial activity. The authors argue that family and business logics may complement each other rather than compete. The discussions and propositions have implications for future research on business families and more inclusive forms of family organisations.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 18 December 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 7 February 2019
Published date: 7 February 2019
Additional Information: Publisher Copyright: © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.
Keywords: Family firms, Institutional theory, Institutional voids, Institutions, Sub-Saharan Africa

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442395
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442395
ISSN: 1355-2554
PURE UUID: 8662a9c0-9151-4b0f-824b-a75a3537ce67

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 Jul 2020 16:38
Last modified: 07 Oct 2022 16:56

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Contributors

Author: William Murithi
Author: Natalia Vershinina
Author: Peter Rodgers

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