Family business: A rich research repository
Justin B Craig
Australian Centre for Family Business, School of Business, Technology and Sustainable Development, Bond University, Gold Coast QLD
Australian Centre for Family Business, Faculty 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
Cyprus International Institute of Management; Family Business Academy, Nicosia, Cyprus; EMRG - Family Business Initiatives, Manchester Business School; International Family Enterprise Research Academy
PP: 392 - 394
The papers in this Special Edition of Journal of Management & Organization (ISBN 978-0-9775742-5-4) highlight that family business is a rich research repository. Ken Moores' opening interview (2009a) with Danny Miller eloquently emphasized that the family business economy, despite its significance, has received disproportionately lower attention by scholars and researchers in the past. Danny's comments are both profound and insightful and we feel confident that they will resonate with both academic and practitioner stakeholders.
As evidenced in our opening paper Family Business Research at a Tipping Point Threshold (Craig, Moores, Horworth & Poutzouris 2009), family business as a research pursuit has undergone significant growth during the last decade (Heck, Hoy, Poutziouris & Steier 2008; Sharma, Hoy, Astrachan & Koiranen 2007). The issues that have faced family business as a research destination are common among all emerging fields (Moores 2009b). Diverse methods are appropriate when the questions being asked are more common than the answers being provided. Therefore, a range of qualitative and quantitative methods are involved according to the nature of questions. Although not intentional, the collection of papers in this edition reflects this. Important to note is that the authors' questions have moved away from debates around ownership succession, which proliferated early research publications, to broader questions that embrace succession but which are inspired by various established theoretical frameworks (Sharma 2004). Here we have presented papers associated with both internal and external family business stakeholders and the issues that such a diverse group brings to the research agenda.
Mattias Nordqvist, Annika Hall and Leif Melin's article Qualitative Research on Family Businesses: The Relevance and Usefulness of the Interpretive Approach (2009) highlights that the interpretive approach to research has high relevance to family business researcher stakeholders. Consistent with suggestions tabled in Danny Miller's interview (Moores 2009a), these scholars suggest that research on family businesses is different from research on other organizations in that it means researching a family, and the influence it exerts on the business(es) this family owns and/or manages. In this article, Nordqvist et al (2009) call for quantitative studies to be complemented by the interpretive approach, which is more able to capture the specific complexity and dynamics unique to family businesses (see Handler 1989; Litz 1997). They discuss central issues, choices, requirements and implications for family business scholars engaged in interpretive research and in so doing, further the conversation around insights necessary for the development of the field of family business in the guest editors' introductory article.
Yi-Chun Huang, Hung-Bin Ding and Ming-Rea Kao then further consider which stakeholders are salient in Salient Stakeholder Voices: Family Business and Green Innovation Adoption (2009) and show that family firms pay much more attention to their internal stakeholders than non-family firms. This finding complements the current discussions on the uniqueness of family business and is very relevant given the global focus on the natural environment in management research (Dibrell & Craig 2006). The family firms in their 235 manufacturing firms from the chemical, and the electronic and information technology industries in Taiwan support the notion that family firms react to stakeholder pressures differently when making natural environmental management decisions and are more likely to engage in environmentally friendly practices.
The stakeholder focus of María Sacristán Navarro and Silvia Gómez Ansón's article (2009) is the corporate board. Their paper asks Do Families Shape Corporate Governance Structures? They provide empirical evidence that the boards of family firms present differential characteristics and that different patterns of family ownership configurations do not affect family firms' corporate governance structures. In particular, family firm boards are smaller than those in non-family firms in their Spanish sample. Further, they find evidence that family firm directors own a larger fraction of the firm's shares and have longer Chairman tenures than non-family firms and family firms are less likely to use voluntary board committees such as Nomination and Remuneration Committees and Executive Committees.
Jill Thomas in Attitudes and Expectations of Shareholders: The Case of the Multi-Generation Family Business (2009) then considers internal shareholders as a group of stakeholders with distinctive issues. As family shareholder support is essential for the ongoing viability of the business as a family business, Thomas argues that multi-generation family businesses need to monitor the attitudes and expectations of the growing number of family member shareholders. Her paper reports on a case study of a multi-generation family business where the shareholder group had grown to 50 individual shareholders. The study explored the shareholders' views about the business and particularly their attitudes to stewardship and whether and under what circumstances, they would hold their shareholdings, pass them to the next generation of family or possibly consider relinquishing their holdings. Lessons from this case study are couched for other stakeholder audiences (eg, shareholders who are owners and board members), with the clear message that there is a need to ensure timely transfer of knowledge to an ever-widening shareholder group.
Mary Barrett and Ken Moores in Spotlights and shadows: Preliminary findings about the experiences of women in family business leadership roles (2009) then focus on another internal stakeholder group. Based on a case study analysis of an international sample of women family business leaders, using frameworks which avoid essentialist assumptions about women's and men's approaches to leadership, these authors suggest there are some characteristic ways women leaders learn family business leadership and entrepreneurship roles.
Charmine Härtel, Gil Bozer and Leon Levin complete the special edition by focusing their attention on the role of a more recently introduced stakeholder group in their paper Family Business Leadership Transition: How an Adaptation of Executive Coaching May Help. They suggest that, unlike in the traditional business organizational climate in which an executive coach operates where the identity of the coachee can be quite clearly differentiated from the business identity, this is not the case within the world of family business where the founder, the successor, the business, and the family culture are interwoven. They contend that this unique feature of family business means that for executive coaching to be effective within the family business environment a radically different approach to that used in traditional business environments must be adopted, namely the consideration of what generally are thought of as non-business variables.
The Special Edition is capped off with a review of Morck's edited History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers which Keith Duncan suggests is compulsory reading to anyone interested in ownership, control and corporate governance. He suggests there are many insights and learnings for a diverse stakeholder audience from this thorough review of two centuries of governance history of the major economies in the world. His timely observations, directed to those collectively trying to define the normative world of tomorrow, are that one of the best learning grounds is to look at what various countries have tried at different points in history. Reviews of books of related interest to other Journal of Management and Organization readers follow Duncan's review.
One of the aims of this Special Edition was to ensure that papers contained a degree of practitioner appeal and, therefore, increase internal and external stakeholder awareness of the unique challenges facing families in business. A second aim was to broaden the scope of Journal of Management & Organization (ISSN 1833-3672) to an international audience. The assembled eight papers, which represent the combined efforts of 19 authors from eight countries, are clear evidence that family business as a research context is not continent, culture, theory or methodology bound. The final aim of this Special Edition was to encourage scholars from all disciplines to consider contributing to the growing body that is family business research. We hope to have achieved this through the presentation of evidence that journal editors are increasingly receptive to family business manuscripts and arguing that family business research has in fact reached a tipping point threshold.
Barrett M and Moores K (2009) Spotlights and shadows: Preliminary findings about the experiences of women in family business leadership roles. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 363-377.
Craig JB, Moores K, Howorth C and Poutziouris P (2009) Family business research at a tipping point threshold. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 282-293.
Dibrell C and Craig JB (2006) The natural environment, innovation, and firm performance: A comparative study of family and non-family firms. Family Business Review 21(4): 275-287.
Handler WC (1989) Methodological issues and considerations in studying family businesses. Family Business Review 2(3): 257-276.
Härtel CEJ, Bozer G and Levin L (2009) Family business leadership transition: How an adaptation of executive coaching may help. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 378-391.
Heck R, Hoy F, Poutziouris P and Steier L (2008) Emerging paths of family entrepreneurship research. Journal of Small Business Management 46(3): 317-330.
Huang YC, Ding HB and Kao MR (2009) Salient stakeholder voices: Family business and green innovation adoption. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 309-326.
Litz R (1997) The family firm's exclusion from business school research: Explaining the void, addressing the opportunity. Entrepreneurship, Theory and Practice 21(3): 55-71.
Moores K (2009a) Researching family business: An interview with Professor Danny Miller. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 278-281.
Moores K (2009b) Paradigms and theory building in the domain of business families. Family Business Review 22: 167-180.
Navarro MS and Gómez Ansón S (2009) Do families shape corporate governance structures? Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 327-345.
Nordqvist M, Hall A and Melin L (2009) Qualitative research on family businesses: The relevance and usefulness of the interpretive approach. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 294-308.
Sharma P (2004) An overview of the field of family business studies: Current status and directions for the future. Family Business Review 17(1): 1-36.
Sharma P, Hoy F, Astrachan J and Koiranen M (2007) The practice-driven evolution of family business education. Journal of Business Research 60: 1012-1021.
Thomas J (2009) Attitudes and expectations of shareholders: The case of the multi-generation family business. Journal of Management & Organization 15(3): 346-362.