THU 28TH MAY 2020


Bringing the family business community together

Research Summaries

12th January 2020 Professor Claire Seaman

Check out our collection of the latest academic research from the field of family business that seeks simply to make academic research more accessible to more people interested in the family business field.

Family Business United and teamed up with Professor Claire Seaman from Queen Margaret University to help make academic research in the field of family business more accessible.  As Claire explains, "Academic research is often published in journals and books that may be protected by copywrite/licensing legislation that inadvertently makes the original publications difficult to find.  The text that follows consists of short blog pieces by one or more of the original researchers that summarise their family business research findings."

"The topics are diverse, as is the field of family business research. The perspectives are also legion, as each piece of research offers a snapshot of one tiny corner of the available research. The reading of research writings has often been likened to a giant jigsaw, with each study providing one piece that contributes to the wider picture."

"I hope readers find these initial pieces useful and/or thought provoking, and where open access is available to the original writing, I have included a link below the text so that individuals can follow up on areas that are of particular interest."

For any academics, researchers or publishers of pieces in the field of family business that would be interested in having their work added to the collection please get in contact with Claire in the first instance by email on

Environmental Sustainability, Orientation and Performance of Family and Non-Family Firms 
Samuel Adomako, Joseph Amankwah‐Amoah, Albert Danso, Renata Konadu and Samuel Owusu‐Agyei

Despite the growing research evidence on the effect of environmental sustainability orientation (ESO) on firm outcomes, contingent factors that may influence the strength of this relationship have received little scholarly attention. In this study, we use insights from the literature on ESO and family business to introduce family status and firm age as moderators in the ESO‐performance linkage. Using time‐lagged data from 253 small and medium sized enterprises in Ghana, we found the impact of ESO on firm performance is amplified for nonfamily firms but not significant for family firms. Our evidence suggests it is stronger among older firms than younger ones. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Find out more here

Counterpoint: How Heterogeneity Among Family Firms Influences Organizational Change 
Alfredo De Massis,Hao Wang & Jess H. Chua

Kotlar and Chrisman (2018) examine how family involvement influences organizational change resulting in change behaviour distinctive from that of non-family firms. Family firms, however, are heterogeneous in terms of their goals, governance, and resources; therefore, the behavioural distinctions proposed by Kotlar and Chrisman are not common to all family firms. In this article, we briefly discuss these sources of heterogeneity and their implications for organizational change and change management in family firms.

Find out more here

Unlocking innovation potential: A typology of family business innovation postures and the critical role of the family system
Authors - Emanuela Rondi, Alfredo De Massis and Josip Kotlar

How can family firms unlock their innovation potential? Despite the recent growth in research on family business innovation, existing literature has yielded controversial findings. Family firms are recognised as more conservative and steadfast to their tradition, however many of the most innovative firms worldwide are family businesses. This points to an apparent willingness-ability paradox in family business innovation. Drawing on family business innovation and family systems literature, it is argued that family characteristics are an important yet overlooked driver of this paradoxical tension.

This paper develops the construct of family business innovation posture, and identifies a typology of four ideal types: Seasoner, Re-enactor, Digger, and Adventurer. Furthermore, it explores and illustrates with empirical data the necessary fit between the family business innovation posture and family-related dimensions to resolve the willingness-ability paradox.

The article examines the implications of the typology for family business innovation research by exploring the effects of intra-family succession, outlining important directions for future research aimed at advancing current understanding of the role of the family in family business innovation, and providing practical insights for family business owners, managers, and consultants.

Find out more here

Family Values: Influencers in the Development of Financial and Non-financial Dynamics in Family Firms

Family values are considered here as one way in which family firms differentiate themselves both from non-family run firms and indeed from each other.  The pursuit of profit may be key for many family businesses, but there are also well-documented cases of businesses where corporate citizenship and philanthropy are integral to the business model. Where one family has a predominant level of control in a business, their family values may assume greater importance and thereby be more likely to influence strategy.

The concentration of family values that occurs when one family influences the business may be a key contributor to the development of financial and non-financial dynamics, representing one way in which strategy is developed and implemented.

Find out more here

Family Entrepreneurship: Culture, Entrepreneurial Intent, Futures and Foresight in Scottish Pakistani Communities

The future for the businesses owned and managed by the Pakistani community in Scotland is likely to be mixed, as some develop towards heritage businesses whilst others fall victim to changing economic conditions.  Entrepreneurial intent and the perceived importance of education are both strong within the community.

Perceived ideals of how that education and entrepreneurial intent might best be channeled vary widely. Highly varied career aspirations for the next generation play a key role as some but by no means all families see the continuation of the family business as the ideal. For some families, business sale or closure will be appropriate. For others, involvement in the family business may be sought as a goal in itself or as a platform for further business start-up. Still others view the business as a means of supporting the family so that the next generation have the opportunity to do something of their own choosing.

Find out more and view the research here



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