The Impact of Family Social Capital on Resource Deployment in Chinese Entrepreneurial Firms


One of the most important determinants of performance for any firm is the unique bundle of resources the company possesses. To date, however, empirical results on whether "familiness" as an element of this resource bundle has a positive or negative impact on firm performance have been mixed (Dyer, 2018; Gottardo & Moisello, 2019; Oswald et al., 2009; Pitchayado et al., 2018). This paper employs structural equation modeling to examine how entrepreneurs in China's Zhejiang Province include members of their nuclear families, extended kin networks, and professional networks in their top management teams to access different bundles of family and non-family human resources, leading to variance in firm performance results. We find firms that leverage "guanxi" (a particular concept of kin, common in China but not often employed as a construct in western-based research, which encompasses both extended family members and close friends) for industry, technical, or entrepreneurial expertise enjoy certain types of higher performance results. In comparison, firms that leverage nuclear family members for management or marketing expertise achieve certain types of lower performance results. Post-hoc analysis indicates that leveraging guanxi specifically for prior entrepreneurial experience or for technical expertise leads to greater employee growth and higher subjective assessment of success. Conversely, leveraging nuclear family members for management or technical expertise leads to lower levels of these same performance variables. However, only firm size, measured by number of employees at venture founding, is predictive of revenue growth.


Business and Information Technology

Keywords and Phrases

entrepreneurship; family business; resource based view; resource dependence theory; social capital

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2380-1751; 1081-8510

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 Jan 2022