Trust Based Relationships between Family Members and Long-Term Employees of Family-Owned SMEs

  •  Ferda Erdem    
  •  Nuray Atsan    


The purpose of this study is to identify dimensions of trust between family members in family-owned SMEs and long-term non-family employees who have been working in the enterprise with at least two generations. The data of the study were collected through interviews with the second generation members actively working in ten family businesses that operate in different sectors. The thematic analysis of the interview notes revealed that the dimensions of trust of family members in non-family employees included competence, identification and personal trustworthiness. Competence of the non-family employees means that they possess the practical skills to tackle various issues related to the family and enterprise. Identification of the long-term employees with the enterprise refers to the content that can be explained with the protection of the interests of the family and enterprise, self-commitment, and adaptation to the values. This is interpreted as psychological ownership. Trustworthiness, on the other hand, points to the ethical conduct such as truthfulness and contentedness. These findings show that trust in the non-family employees who have been working in family-owned SMEs has a specific context. Suggesting some implications for future studies, the findings also contain evidence demonstrating that the family business is a strong niche for scholars studying organizational behavior.

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