Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Despite the prevalence of family firms, researchers often ignore the significant impact of the family on the business. Thus, if organizational scholars do not account for the family as a variable in their research, they will not account for a significant number of the organizations they purport to understand. The fact that family businesses comprise such a large percentage of organizations proves that the family business context deserves more attention from both organizational and organizational communication scholars. With this in mind, the original intent of this dissertation was to explore the impact of family relationships on communication practices and behaviors within the family business. Initially, the goal of this project was to investigate the ways in which the combination of the family and business systems impacted the communication within the family and within the business. Although this general objective is accomplished, the data collection and analysis process reveals a new angle that explains the findings more specifically. In particular, the data suggests that the broad categories and themes derived from a review of family business literature reflect aspects of family business that are mostly negative. The family business literature does not seem to offer much explanation for the positive experiences within the family business. Since the data mostly reflects positive experience, the prevailing family business research does not adequately explain or fit the data. As a result, the data prompted a new search for literature and research that includes the positive experiences of the family business as well as the negative. This dissertation uses theories of Enrichment and Depletion to compare the prevalence of positive experiences versus negative experiences. Data collection involved case studies of four different family businesses. Participants from these businesses were interviewed and transcripts of the interviews were then analyzed to compare and contrast the enriching (positive) and depleting (negative) experiences. The findings revealed that although family business members face issues of depletion, the participants overwhelmingly reported enriching experiences within their business. These findings suggest that the enrichment occurs within the family business and should be included within family business and family business communication literature.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Loretta Pecchioni



Included in

Communication Commons