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Founder’s Apprehension In Small Family Business Succession In Thailand: Interpretative View Of The Situational Distance

Tariq H. Malik

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Small family businesses (SFBs) encounter disruption during the intergenerational succession unless understood and managed effectively. Even before the succession process begins, the founder’s apprehension about the succession rises to a critical level, and yet a little research has dealt with this issue. We address the issue of the founder’s apprehension through this qualitative study by tracing the causes, contexts, and contours through the accounts of the founder in Thailand. We used 18 in-depth interviews with founders whose business types, their intergenerational succession planning, and regional contexts had similarities. A bricolage between family business as a rational device and a social device reveals whether and how the founder’s mental structures and situated-attention reflected on the focal concept of “apprehension.” We note several findings. First, a combination of cognitive scripts and situated attention altered the founder’s identity vis-à-vis the heir. Following from the functional, relational, locational, temporal, and structural narratives, the founder’s interpreted distance from that of the heir suggests that the discretionary power of the founder varies. Second, this variation translates into apprehension in an order. Third, based on the order of the distance between the founder and heir, the functional and structural narrative take the first and second positions. Third, theoretically, we link the functional context to cognitive and structural context to normative perspectives.