Previous studies of family businesses have no common agreement on what should be the most effective and efficient approach for making decisions at different managerial levels to solve business issues. Accordingly, the main objective of this study was to understand the nature of decision-making by family members who are involved in a business in different capacities such as owners, owner managers, and managers. Locating the research in the interpretivist paradigm, and utilizing qualitative case study methods (Yin, 1994), we interviewed 24 respondents from 12 well-known family firms from different districts in Sri Lanka. Thematic analysis indicated that the consultative approach is mostly used by family members in operational, functional, and top level management decisions. Yet, family members’ decisions in the business as owners, owner-managers, and managers have not shown a common decision-making process. Owner-managers’ roles in the business decisions are highlighted as they make rational, risk averse, and deliberate business decisions which would assist to run the business. In comparison, owners and managers have followed the consultative decision-making approach to shape business decisions in line with family requirements.


Decision-Making, Family Firms, Manager, Owner, Owner-Manager, Sri Lanka, Qualitative Case Study

Author Bio(s)

Ravindra Hewa Kuruppuge is a Senior Lecturer attached to Department of Operations Management, Faculty of Management, University of Peradeniya Sri Lanka. He completed his PhD studies in 2018 at the Department of Management and Marketing, Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic. He is an author or co-author of more 30 articles in scientific journals and presenter of several research conferences. His areas of research are human capital, knowledge management, family businesses and human resource management. He is currently teaching subjects such as Research Methodology, Operations Management and Tourism Management. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: kuruppuge@yahoo.com or ravindrak@pdn.ac.lk.

Ales Gregar is an Associate Professor attached to Management and Marketing Department. He was a Vice-rector of Tomas Bata University few years back. He is an author or co-author 136 works, including 51 articles in professional journals, 57 contributions to proceedings of international conferences, 4 textbooks, 1 monograph. His areas of interest for studies are focused on Human Resource Management, Working Systems, Work and Organizational Psychology. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: gregar@utb.cz.


Authors of this article are grateful to the Internal Grant Agency of FaME TBU No. IGA/FaME/2016/001: Enhancing Business Performance Through Employees’ Knowledge Sharing, for financial support to carry out this research.

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