Conflict, Innovation and the mediating role of family influence in the SA wine industry

  • June 25, 2020
  • Tags Research, Top Achiever, PhD, Futures Studies, Wine Industry


Dr Etienne Heyns, winner of the Dr Morne Mostert Award for a Futures Studies-related PhD in Business Management and Administration, says the award has further sparked an inextinguishable curiosity about future studies within him, especially during this challenging time of COVID-19, where considering the future is as important as ever!”

I have always been interested in the concept of thinking beyond the horizon – a long-term orientation. In family businesses this particularly comes to fruition when the current generation makes decisions based on the legacy that they leave for the next generation. My study specifically looked at the interplay between conflict and innovation – two major influences in the long-term sustainability of the broader society as well. The results of my study show that family commitment and essentially a long-term orientation fundamentally influences the interaction between conflict and innovation, ultimately high-lighting just how important it is to consider the future and our role in it.

Read an abstract from his PhD below:

Family businesses have unique attributes that distinguish them from their non‑family counterparts. This also applies to conflict and innovation – two key aspects regarding the long-term sustainability of these businesses. This study investigated the impact of family influence in terms of conflict and innovation, by scrutinising the potential moderating effect of family influence on the relationship between conflict and innovation in the South African wine industry.

A research framework comprising multi-item measures of innovation, family influence and conflict was designed to investigate the potential moderating effect of family influence. This framework was applied in a quantitative study among members of the top management teams of family businesses in the South African wine industry.

A questionnaire was developed by adopting existing scales, based on scholarly literature and input from a panel of experts. Subsequently, a large-scale survey served as the primary data source and yielded data that could be used to model the relationships under investigation. Moderator analyses and partial least square structural equation modelling were utilised to determine the moderating role of family influence. The correlations between the dimensions of family influence and conflict, as well as innovation were also evaluated.

…family commitment is a significant moderator of the relationship between task conflict and innovation.

The study’s meaningful findings indicate that family commitment is a significant moderator of the relationship between task conflict and innovation. Additional key findings suggest that relationship conflict and harmony as a non‑economic family goal are both moderators of the relationship between task conflict and innovation.

Practical implications of these findings regarding managing conflict in family businesses were discussed in terms of promoting a family business environment conducive to innovation. Relationship conflict was presented as a dimension of family influence.

The study makes a contribution to stewardship theory by providing new perspectives on the roles of family commitment, family harmony as non-economic goal and relationship conflict on decision comprehensiveness, participative governance and long-term orientation.

Futhermore, the study provides a new perspective on the preservation of socio-emotional wealth by relating socio-emotional wealth priorities (family members identifying with the business, preserving binding social ties among family members, emotional attachment of family members and dynastic succession) to conflict and innovation.


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