Family business research at a tipping point threshold
Justin B Craig
Australian Centre for Family Business, School of Business, Technology and Sustainable Development, Bond University, Gold Coast QLD
Centre for Family Business, Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development, Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Australian Centre for Family Business, Faculty of Business, Technology and Sustainable Development, Bond University, Gold Coast QLD
Cyprus International Institute of Management; Family Business Academy, Nicosia, Cyprus; EMRG - Family Business Initiatives, Manchester Business School; International Family Enterprise Research Academy
PP: 282 - 293
In this paper, we report the frequency that family business research has been published by year and by discipline in top-tier journals as listed in the Journal Quality List (JQL) (Harzing 2008) to argue that family business research has reached a tipping point threshold.
We suggest that the acceptance of family business research in top-tier journals is the tipping point that will enamor the field to a wider researcher audience and thereby further contribute to paradigmatic development.
family business research, tipping point theory, paradigmatic development
Any new academic field takes time to gain legitimacy. One way to measure scholarly progress is through acceptance in premier, peer-reviewed publications. Following the lead of Ireland, Reutzel and Webb (2005) who documented the entrepreneurship research trends in the Academy of Management Journal (AMJ), this paper chronicles the evolution of family business research by detailing papers that have appeared in top-tier journals in the period 1994-2008.
We define top-tier journals as those from all disciplines that feature prominently in the Journal Quality List (JQL) (32nd edition) (Harzing 2008). Because family business as a research context is broad, a top-tier journal approach allows us to expand our search across all academic disciplines. Mindful that what constitutes a top-tier journal will conjure debate dependent on the author and audience, even institution (Giacalone 2009), we have been careful and deliberate to ensure that our results can be interpreted dependent on various definitions of a top-tier journal.
We theoretically frame our discussion around tipping point theory. The term 'tipping point' has been applied to a point within any process when the rate at which the process advances increases dramatically. Originally introduced by Grodzins (1958) to describe demographic changes in urban settings in the United States, the phenomena was expanded and built upon by Nobel Prize winner Thomas Schelling (1971, 1978), and more recently applied by Gladwell (2000) to a variety of social phenomena. A tipping point occurs when a system in equilibrium receives a jolt (Daynes, Esplin & Kristensen 2004). The jolt, delivered by the right sort of persons carrying the right message, disrupts the equilibrium and leads to a rapid expansion of a certain behavior. We use tipping point theory in this review to suggest that increasing acceptance of family business research in top-tier journals is the tipping point that will enamor the field to a wider researcher audience.
This project makes several contributions. First, our multiple discipline and international sample of journals from an established ranking enables a more comprehensive depiction of this emerging field. This objective approach reports to researchers and editorial boards from all disciplines the increasing rate at which family business research is being accepted for publication. Second, from a paradigm development perspective, we add to the knowledge of how new academic fields evolve and build legitimacy. Third, from the final list of published papers, stakeholders will be able to identify gaps in the extant research. For example, editorial boards, if considering a special edition on family business, will be able to refine their focus as they identify areas of interest that have been previously under-addressed. Scholars, too, will be able to plan their research program around a previously under-studied topic or identify how they are able to extend an existing research stream.
We proceed as follows. Section two introduces a brief overview of tipping point theory. Section three reviews the development of family business research. Section four details our search methodology. In section five, we table the results of our search. We interpret the findings in section six and discuss the rate at which family business research is being accepted in top-tier journals in terms of the tipping point frame. Section seven concludes.
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