Cater, J. J., & Beal, B. D. 2015. Servant leadership in multigenerational family firms. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 20(4): 25-48. [journal]
Servant leadership, which begins with the desire to serve others first, may be conducive to the success of family firms where concern for others, especially family members, is important. We used the Organizational Leadership Assessment (OLA) (Laub, 1999) to determine if servant leadership was practiced in respondent firms and then employed a qualitative case study approach consisting of in-depth, semi-structured interviews to compare servant-led and non-servant-led firms. We outline six important areas for the understanding of servant leadership in family firms. The benefits to family firm leaders who successfully implement servant leadership may include respectful, agreeable, and highly motivated employees as well as increased sustainability of their organizations for future generations of family members. Our study adds to family business and servant leadership research by addressing these two distinct research areas in a common context, emphasizing commonalities and mutually complementary insights.