July 11, 2012
Family Business Review Executive Summaries
month, I was thrilled when asked to introduce my
executive summaries of Family Business Review articles, in
The Practitioner Wednesday Edition. I’m equally excited to present another
assemblage of recaps for you today.
my selection to only three was no small task, since each of the articles is incredibly strong and certainly worthy of a closer look.
But I think you’ll find the three I’ve chosen to be a wonderful representation
of what FBR has to offer and what we as
practitioners can learn from the latest research in the field. And
of course, don’t let it end here. You can also download the current FBR issue and archived issues online.
further preamble, here are today’s recaps:
SUMMARY 1: "Why Can't a Family Business be More like a Non-Family Business" by Alex Stewart and Michael Hitt
A common suggestion for family businesses is that they need
to "professionalize” and become more like nonfamily businesses. But is this advice based on sound
research? The authors of this article review
59 empirical studies to find out what is known and not known about this
strategy for family business.
The authors argue that "we need a greater understanding of
the modes of family firms and of their contexts to know how they can operate
more effectively” (p. 59) and identify six modes of professionalization in
professional family firms
private family firms
operated family firms
family business groups
public family firms
- Hybrid professional
While this article does not provide THE ultimate answer to the
professionalization question, it does summarize very effectively what is known
and not known about the effectiveness of professionalization in these various
modes of family firms based on the current research. The authors do a very
effective job arguing "against” the "one size fits all” professionalization
Practitioners should find this article thought-provoking and
beneficial for their practices. Even if
there are no clear answers, the article raises many issues which should help
practitioners who are helping their clients professionalize. For example, the
authors have a very interesting and compelling discussion about why "some
family firms are better served by entrepreneurial rather than professional management”
(p.70). The authors then conclude and
recommend that knowing how and when to professionalize a family firm requires
more in depth research that examines not only the business but also the family. The authors further conclude that most of the
empirical studies of family businesses to date have not explored the
capabilities, motivations and goals of both the family and the business in
enough depth. If researchers follow the
authors’ suggestion in future research, the findings are bound to greatly
benefit both practitioners and their clients.
To link to the study, click here.
SUMMARY 2: "Advising
the Family Firm" by Vanessa Strike
In her introduction Strike notes that ‘theoretical concepts’
about family business advising have been largely ignored and she sets out to
record the contributions to date on this subject. Since 1983, there have been
only 105 articles published on the topic of advising family firms and of these,
only 6 were studies explicitly measuring outcomes associated with the
engagement of a family firm advisor. There is also little evidence indicating
the extent to which advisors succeed in influencing family firms and,
consequently, the effect on firm performance.
Strike elaborates on topics such as: types of advisors, competencies,
characteristics, process of advising, and outcomes. And she concludes that,
"This literature review suggests that advisors may fulfill family firm needs,
yet the process itself remains shielded.”
Hopefully, reading this article will encourage practitioners
to consider ways in which we can partner with researchers and encourage more in
depth investigation of the efficacy of our practices. We all recognize the importance of client
confidentiality, but are there ways that practitioners can share data from
their engagements with researchers while maintaining the privacy of
clients? Perhaps we can learn from our
therapy colleagues since there is a long history of outcome research in that
field leading to ‘evidenced based treatments.’ It’s possible we could use some
of the research designs in that field to help our field advance in the area of
outcome research. Strike’s article is a challenge to us all!
To link to the study, click here.
SUMMARY 3: "Worlds
Apart? Rebridging the Distance Between Family
Science and Family Business Research” by
Albert James, Jennifer Jennings and Rhonda Breitkreuz
A bibliographic analysis of 2240 articles published in the
25 year period between 1985 and 2010 is used to vividly demonstrate how the
study of family business has become dominated by business dominated theoretical
perspectives. The authors make a strong
case for including family science theories in the study of family business
through the use of ‘informed pluralism’ – drawing from different paradigms to
enrich the understanding of both families and business.
demonstrate the inherent yet untapped potential of disciplined integration of
family science and family enterprise studies.
The core concepts and assumptions of two prominent theoretical
perspectives in family science (structural functionalism and symbolic
interactionism) and family business (agency theory and resource based view) are
defined, explained, and examined leading to a series of provocative and
important research directions (see Tables 4 and 5).
Just as the authors recommend that researchers should be
building bridges with other disciplines, the Family Firm Institute has endorsed
multidisciplinary approaches to practice for over 25 years and has recently
implemented the Global Education Network which will help practitioners accomplish this important goal in the family
To link to the study, click here.
For complete issues as well as the latest Online First articles, visit the FBR Sage website here.
FFI members receive complimentary subscription to FBR
. If you need assistance accessing your account please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Contributor:
Karen L. Vinton Ph.D. is a
1999 Barbara Hollander Award winner and Professor Emeritus of Business at the College of
Business at Montana State University, where she founded the University’s Family Business
Program. An FFI Fellow, she has served on its Board of Directors and chaired the Body of
Knowledge committee. From 1997 through 2011, Vinton served on the editorial board of the Family
Business Review, and is the current assistant editor. Before retiring, Vinton served as
director for her own family's business (negotiating its eventual sale) and had her own family
business consulting practice, Vinton Consulting Services. Karen can be reached at email@example.com.
week: stay tuned for an article by Henry Krasnow, entitled "Who is the
Client? What Difference Does it Make?"
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