Social networks and relationships in copreneurial firms: An international study

Laura Galloway, John William Sanders, Jo Bensemann, Alexei Tretiakov

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This article explores the small unit of family business – being in business with one's spouse – in Scotland and New Zealand. With reference to social network theory, the research explores if the strong married relationship enhances business or inhibits it due to a hypothesised limiting effect on access to external networks. The paper thus measures the impact of networks on copreneurial business performance and explores perceptions of the copreneurial experience.

The research applies a mixed methodology. First, a quantitative sample of 301 small firms in Scotland and New Zealand is tested for variation in performance and social network reach between copreneurial, other types of family firms and firms with no family links. Thereafter, a qualitative study explores the experience of 101 copreneurs in the two countries, to which a thematic analysis is applied.

Networks are shown to be central influences on performance, but the paper finds no performance or network reach variation between copreneurial and other business. Nevertheless, copreneurship is perceived both positively and negatively by practitioners and testimonies include explicit reference to strategies to manage home/work tensions.

The paper contributes new data on performance in copreneurial firms in two international locations. Viewed through a social network theory lens, the research shows the utility of networks to business, family or otherwise. The paper also shows that the work/family interface in copreneurial firms is perceived both as an advantage and as a challenge and so requires careful management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-922
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Family Business Management
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Copreneurship
  • Family business
  • International
  • Social network theory
  • Work/life interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management


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