C0-CEOs: An Exploratory Case Study of Shared Leadership in a Family Owned and Operated Business Open Access
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ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION Co-CEOs: An Exploratory Case Study of Shared Leadership in a Family Owned and Operated BusinessLack of viable leadership succession has plagued family businesses and contributed to the high failure rate of these businesses (Cabrera-Suárez, 2005; Grote, 2003). Perhaps as a response to this challenge, more family businesses are installing Co-CEOs/Co-Presidents as they make the transition from generation to generation. This study explores the phenomenon of family member Co-CEOs in a family business that has successfully made the transition from founder to sibling ownership and management. While Co-CEOs are considered to be "a special case of shared leadership-the two person case" (Pearce & Conger, 2003, p. 14), the context of a family business introduces further considerations as does the issue of dyadic interaction between the two co-leaders. The family business context is investigated using the concept of internal family social capital which is unique to families and appropriable into family businesses. This exploratory case study researches the nature of shared leadership between a pair of Co-CEOs in a family business and additionally asks about the role of internal family social capital in the implementation and functioning of the leadership structure. This case study examines a 32 year old hospitality business that is led by brother Co-Presidents. Data were gathered from interviews of company employees, external stakeholders and family members; observations and documents. The findings reveal that the success of this leadership arrangement is due in no small measure to the close knit and value driven nature of the owning family. Strong internal family social capital is an indicator of achieving shared leadership in the top post of a family business. The duo of leaders implement role overlap; practice open communication and conflict resolution; have trust in and respect for each other and use external support as a lubricant to the relationship.Key words: Co-CEOs, family social capital, shared leadership, co-leadership.