Lessons in Financial Governance from Bowen’s Family Systems Model

Sachs, Paul and Mugova, Shame (2023) Lessons in Financial Governance from Bowen’s Family Systems Model. In: Corporate Social Responsibility in a Dynamic Global Environment. CSR, Sustainability, Ethics and Governance . Springer, pp. 205-318. ISBN 9783031246463

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Abstract

All organizations are social systems. The family is the first social system to which each person belongs. A business organization is also such a system. Family theorists describe family relationships and use this understanding to help families to improve their functioning. These insights can also be applied to business organizations and their governance. The present paper uses Bowen’s family systems theory to understand financial governance and governance relationships.

Bowen’s eight concepts of family systems are triangles, differentiation of self, nuclear family emotional process, family projection process, multigenerational transmission process, emotional cutoff, sibling position, and societal-emotional process. These concepts are discussed in light of how financial information is shared in a business, how board composition affects the oversight of financial operations, how leadership balances financial and operational demands, and how the social interactions within the business interplay with the macro social-industrial environment.

For example, a well-functioning family helps a family member develop into an independent adult. Likewise, the effective business leader enables the financial department to develop autonomy, allowing that department to provide meaningful, objective information for business decisions. When this does not occur, problems can arise which affects family stability and business efficiency.

Suggestions for further research are offered. In particular, the connection between family theories and agency and social models of governance is explored. The models also are relevant to notions of who are the business’s stakeholders. The overlap between business systems and family systems which has become more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic speaks to the relevance of the concepts in this paper to future research and business planning.

Item Type: Book Section
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-24647-0_16
Dates:
DateEvent
5 April 2021Accepted
21 April 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Budgeting, Change management, Differentiation, Family systems, Financial governance, Organizational culture
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-07 - finance
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > College of Business, Digital Transformation & Entrepreneurship > Centre for Accountancy Finance and Economics
Depositing User: Shame Mugova
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2024 14:59
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 14:59
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15079

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