Governing by managing identity boundaries: The case of family businesses

Chamu Sundaramurthy, Glen E. Kreiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


In this paper we illustrate how boundary theory can be a useful perspective to understand the dynamics of family businesses. We integrate insights from the family business literature with the work-family and identity boundary literatures to describe degrees of integration between the family and business identities in family firms and outline contingencies that influence this integration. We also develop the notion of "differential permeability" as a state of being both integrated and segmented on various aspects of identity and articulate costs and benefits to this state, as well as to high integration and high segmentation. Finally, we invoke the research on "boundary work" as a means of managing family business boundaries and conclude by outlining additional avenues of research that stem from using such a boundary theory lens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-436
Number of pages22
JournalEntrepreneurship: Theory and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics


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