Business Ethics Quarterly


Drivers of Proactive Environmental Strategy in Family Firms

Pramodita Sharma and Sanjay Sharma


Globally, family firms are the dominant organizational form. Family involvement in business and unique family dynamics impacts organizational strategy and performance. However, family control of business has rarely been adopted as a discriminating variable in the organizations and the natural environment (ONE) research field. Drawing on the theory of planned behavior we develop a conceptual framework of the drivers of proactive environmental strategy (PES) in family firms. We argue that family involvement in business influences the attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control of a firm’s dominant coalition. Together these factors determine the extent of the dominant coalition’s intentions to undertake PES. Further, family firms with lower levels of relationship conflict within the controlling family will be more successful in translating the dominant coalition’s intentions to allocate resources for the pursuit of PES. Research implications of the theory are discussed.

Pramodita Sharma is the CIBC Distinguished Professor of Family Business at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. She is also the Global Director of the Successful Trans-generational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) project at the Babson College, USA. She serves as the editor of Family Business Review. Her research is focused on issues of interest to family enterprises such as entrepreneurship, innovation, succession, next-generation commitment, and governance. This research has appeared in Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Journal of Business Venturing, and Journal of Business Research, amongst others. Her most recent co-authored (with Frank Hoy) book, Entrepreneurial Family Firms, is widely used in family business courses around the world and has been translated into Mandarin and Greek. E-mail:

Sanjay Sharma is the dean of the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. Before joining Concordia, he was the Canada Research Chair of Organizational Sustainability and the director of the Centre for Responsible Organizations at the School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. His research focuses on how organizations develop internal motivations and build capacity and capabilities to reconcile their economic, social, and environmental performance and generate competitive advantage via sustainable business models in developed and developing nation contexts. His research has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Executive, Strategic Management Journal, and Journal of Marketing, amongst others. E-mail: