Evaluating the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research Method used in the Article “The Contribution of Leadership Style and Practices to Family and Business Success” by Ritch L. Sorenson

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The article “The Contribution of Leadership Style and Practices to Family and Business Success,” by Ritch L. Sorenson, analyzes family business cultures and leadership’s impact on the set-up’s success. Balancing family and business is a challenging task. Family business leadership should address the matter to achieve both positive family outcomes and positive business outcomes. In evaluating the applicable leadership approaches for family businesses, the study uses a quantitative, descriptive research method that is survey-based. The southwestern university students conducting the study invited owners and managers of family businesses from various cities and locations in Texas to participate in a survey of family business practices. Questionnaires were used, and responses were evaluated using the Likert scale, with each item rated on a 7-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” The research study applies structured interviews and questionnaires on a standardized set of questions. The questionnaire was created from several sources, with participation items adapted from the Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire and the Laissez-faire and referent leadership items adapted from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Other things were created to assess the forms of leadership derived from Dyer. The research methods adopted in the study present some strengths that made the study successful and some weaknesses that left a gap that should be analyzed in future studies.


The quantitative descriptive research method used in the study presented the following strengths that promoted the successful completion of the research. The methodology applied in the article provides an in-depth view of the Leadership Style and Practices applicable to Family and Business Success. Family-member managers participated in the study and responded to valuable questions about family business practices, highlighting important information on business outcomes, family outcomes, and employee satisfaction and commitment (Sorenson, 2000). Such valuable information helped present the best results and recommendations in the study and opened an opportunity for future researchers to evaluate the topic. The regression analyses used in the study helped test hypotheses and showed the outcome of each leadership style and practice on family business success (Bryman, 2016). For instance, the first hypothesis on autocratic leadership and laissez-faire/ mission leadership is negatively associated with employee satisfaction and commitment. Upon testing the hypothesis, it was clear that it was not confirmed as the relationship was not significant.

The quantitative research method applied in the study is relatively easy to analyze. For each study question, the respondents rank their outcome based on the Likert scale, which is easy for data analysis. For example, the study evaluated the business outcomes by including three items that measured their financial performance, profit earned in the past five years, and how they characterized their profits in the past five years. The Likert scale is also applied in various evaluations in the study, including family outcomes and employee satisfaction and commitment (Bryman, 2016). Participants ranked their responses on a 7-point scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree.’ The statistical data analysis method used in the study makes it easy to present the study results and analyze how different leadership approaches influence family business success (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009). From the presented Likert scale data, the regression analyses are used to test the hypothesis, and a summary is given on the associated leadership styles. This makes it easy for other researchers to analyze the presented data and engage in more detailed studies relating to the topic. It is also easy to raise relevant questions on the presented data and get responses on how leadership styles and practices influence family business outcomes.

The research method used in the article presents consistent, precise, and reliable data. The study applied a purposive sampling technique by focusing on owners and managers of family businesses from various cities and locations in Texas. The focus sample is consistent with the research study on Leadership Style and Practices for Family and Business Success. The study focused on family-member managers who were best positioned to provide reliable data for the study and appropriately respond to research questions, meeting the study’s objectives (Sorenson, 2000). The sampling technique adopted presented a relatively reasonable cost, which made it easy for the study to be completed successfully.


The quantitative research method used in the article does not give data that is robust enough to explain complex issues in the study. The Likert scale used in the study does not give detailed information on the responses given by the participants (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009). For example, when participants respond to questions relating to employee satisfaction and commitment on a 7-point scale ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree,’ they do not give detailed information on issues that affect them.

The adopted survey method presents the worry of participants providing responses that are considered desirable or in line with social norms. For instance, in evaluating business outcomes, where participants are asked to compare their financial performance to major competitors in their industries, we have to worry about managers saying ‘much better’ because that is a more desirable answer for a positive business view (Sorenson, 2000). The probability of getting biased responses is high as managers wish to present the best view of their family-business outcome. This makes it difficult to draw the best view of family-business success.

The quantitative research methodology adopted in the study makes it difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. When the family business managers talk about a particular leadership style that they use to run their family business, they do not provide detailed information, making it difficult to conclude that the leadership style and practice did help the managers run the business successfully. This is the case, especially where the Likert scale is used since it makes it difficult to understand the context of a phenomenon (Bryman, 2016). For instance, in evaluating family-business success, the family outcomes were measured using the Likert scale on a 7-point scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree.’ The respondents were asked whether they agreed that their business delivered the family outcomes listed. Responding to questions like family independence and satisfaction based on the Likert scale does not help the researchers establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Deriving conclusions and recommendations on the most effective leadership style and practice from the study is difficult. It also poses a challenge for future studies since there is no clear relationship between the cause and effect of leadership styles and practices in family business success.


The article “The Contribution of Leadership Style and Practices to Family and Business Success” by Ritch L. Sorenson is a clear guide for family business that is highly helpful to business managers. The researchers have adapted a combination of research methods that helped complete the study. The study uses a quantitative research method and focuses on structured interviews. The questionnaires are standardized and allow respondents to rank their responses on a Likert scale, which is easy for analysis by the researchers. Focusing the interviews on a specific group made getting relevant and reliable data on time easy. The sample group was derived from across cities and locations in Texas, which made it easy to conduct the research on time at a relatively affordable cost. The quantitative, descriptive research method adopted in the study presents several strengths that made it possible for the study to achieve its aims and succeed. The purposive sampling technique helped the researchers focus on family-business managers, making it easy to get reliable and relevant information relating to the aims and objectives of the study.

Despite the strengths of the research study, the adapted research methods present a few weaknesses. The weaknesses have created a research gap that prompts the need for future research and study in leadership styles and practices for family business success. Based on the nature of the study, there is worry that the respondents may give responses that are viewed as more desirable for their businesses. For instance, respondents may create a view that their leadership style and practice have promoted both positive business and family outcomes to create a positive view rather than reality. Since no detailed information is required in the interview questions, it is difficult to establish whether the responses are appropriate. This creates a bias in the final results, making it difficult for future researchers who base their studies on such data. Such unreliable responses are unethical and create bias in the study.

Similarly, the study sample concentrates on one region, Texas. Various cultural behaviors may influence relations, which are reflected in family-business operations. That may be different in other regions across the world. Therefore, the study sample location is narrow. Therefore, the findings may not be drawn as a conclusion on the leadership styles and practices applicable for business success across all regions. Since the adapted research method presents strengths and weaknesses, future researchers need to conduct detailed studies and adopt different techniques. They can borrow a few that are most reliable and incorporate others to cover any research gaps.




Bryman, A. (2016). Social research methods. Oxford university press.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business students. Pearson education.

Sorenson, R. L. (2000). The contribution of leadership style and practices to family and business success. Family Business Review13(3), 183-200.


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