The brightness of the founder’s shadow: Not an oxymoron!

Liliana Dinis, Pedro Neves, Alfredo De Massis

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Most studies on family firms focus on the implications of one generation’s actions on the next, since memory is still fresh and the actors can still be accessed. Through an inductive study of 27 family firms, we develop theory about how the implications of the founder’s actions and beliefs go beyond one generation, potentially enduring even when the business no longer belongs to the founding family. Family business researchers typically study the practices of the founding family that sustain the founder’s influence. We reveal that the founder’s shadow is perpetuated by the firm’s stakeholders, especially the community of employees. We discuss the implications of the founder’s continued presence, even when absent, and suggest ways to use it to reinforce collective identity. Nonfamily firm managers might also learn from the positive outcomes of family firms using the founder’s shadow to strengthen collective identity rather than discarding their founding history.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


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