Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

Major Professor

M. Lane Morris, Franz W. Kellermanns

Committee Members

Timothy P. Munyon, Garriy Shteynberg


In this dissertation, I examine and extend the microfoundations of socioemotional wealth (SEW) theory. While burgeoning research finds that a focus on SEW, or a controlling family’s stock of nonfinancial and affective utilities in a firm, predicts unique family firm outcomes, we know surprisingly little about emotion and family dynamic’s assumed causal roles in these unique outcomes. I address these theoretical needs with five related essays. In the first essay, I review the extant SEW literature, identifying unexamined cognitive, affective, motivational, and social assumptions in theoretical arguments and integrating psychological research to offer new directions for studying the microfoundations of SEW Theory. In the second essay, I build multilevel theory on emotion’s role in the family’s SEW preservation decisions, articulating how emotion at the individual level can impact family-level dynamics and decision making processes intended to preserve SEW. In the third essay, I articulate how experimental approaches to testing and extending individual-level theoretical relationships built on SEW tenets can provide insightful contributions to the literature. In the fourth essay, I integrate socioemotional wealth theory with socioemotional selectivity theory in efforts to reconcile paradoxical findings in the literature about SEW’s relation with time. In the fifth essay, I use Kauffman Firm Survey data to examine SEW’s role in addressing the liability of newness in new family-controlled ventures. In the aggregate, this dissertation offers some of the first studies that theoretically and empirically integrate psychological understanding of family members’ emotions and goal pursuits into SEW. Implications from this dissertation are positioned to challenge broader management research while also advancing family business research beyond a homogenous view of family firms vs. non-family firms to an understanding of heterogeneity within and between family firms.

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