Family Entrepreneurship


Family Entrepreneurship: Review and Prospects for Research, Special issue of Management International, Edited by Alain Bloch, Louise Cadieux, Alain Fayolle and Olivier Germain; Deadline 15 Sep 2008

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Call for Papers

Review: International Management

Family Entrepreneurship
Review and Prospects for Research

Guest Editors:

  • Alain Bloch, CNAM et HEC Paris
  • Louise Cadieux, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
  • Alain Fayolle, EM Lyon
  • Olivier Germain, Normandy Business School

In the fall of 2009, a special theme issue of the journal Management International will be devoted to the subject of family entrepreneurship. This issue continues the tradition the journal has established of opening its pages to work in the area of entrepreneurship. We can just mention, by way of example, the special issue published in 2001, “Entrepreneurship: an international perspective”, coordinated by our colleagues Louis Jacques Filon and Thierry Verstraete. This present call for papers is associated with a call for papers for the 2nd Georges Doriot Conference ( organized by HEC Paris and the Ecole de Management de Normandie on the 15 and 16 May 2008. Researchers and other experts who are interested in this topic are invited to submit their papers by 15 September 2008.

From firm to family firm

The place of family firms in the world economic fabric is important, regardless of the criteria used to define them. To give just one illustration of this observation, the statistics compiled by the Family Firm Institute reveal that their contribution to the GNP of a sample of European countries varies between 45% and 65%. The lowest level is in Portugal and the highest in Italy. In the USA, 33% of Fortune 500 companies are under family influence. In Canada, it was estimated in 2003 that family firms generated an annual turnover of 1.3 billion Canadian dollars and employed more than half of the active workforce.

This no doubt explains why the family firm is the object of such sustained attention, as shown by the organization and development of practices based around professional and academic communities (Family Firm Institute, Family Business Network, International Family Enterprise Research Academy, Hénokiens, ASMEP, etc.) or the establishment of publications totally given over to the subject, such as the Family Business Review. However, many questions remain about family firms and researchers from increasingly diverse disciplines (Bird et al., 2002; Sharma, 2004) are not short of problems and prospects for research, which, combined with the necessary multidisciplinary approach of the area, gives it a real specificity.

A brief look at research in the field shows first of all the increasing importance of concerns relating to the specificity of family governance (notably Catry and Buff, 1996; Carlock & Ward, 2001; Hirigoyen, 2002), including questions linked to the process by which the legitimacy of the family director is constructed, to the performance of this type of firm, but also the “synchronisation” of family and company life cycles (Gersick & al., 1997). Moreover, the management of human resources has, on several occasions, been described as specific to this type of firm (Dyer and Handler, 1994; Geliner, 1996; Fredy-Planchot, 2002; Kenyon-Rouvirez and Ward, 2004), which connects family values with company culture. More unexpectedly, the marketing of family firms has also been considered as specific (Trinquecoste, 2002), notably due to the use of patronymic brands. The financial management of family firms has also given rise to an abundant body of literature, of which a part concurs with that previously mentioned in relation to the governance of family firms. Finally, some research work deals with the transversal processes at work in family firms. In particular, some researchers (Habbershon, 2004; Block & Jouini, 2006) have focused on the innovation processes in family firms and have already obtained a certain number of counter-intuitive results. For example, the traditional aversion to risk in family firms, by nature patrimonial, is a paradoxical source of success in the management of innovation.

From family firm to family entrepreneurship

The work carried out in the field of the family firm has not, however, exhausted the subject of the role of the family unit in decisions inherent in the development of the firm from its very conception. Thus, much remains to be done with regard to the study of behaviors and orientations at the junction of entrepreneurship and the family firm. Special issues of review such as Journal of Business Venturing (2003) and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (2006) open up a great number of research paths. They place particular emphasis on “the understanding of the family as a major source of oxygen for the combustion of entrepreneurship” (Edito, JBV, 2003, p. 559).

Recently two approaches have tried to consolidate the link between the field of entrepreneurship proper and that of family firms. The first, North American in origin, deals with “transgenerational” entrepreneurship (Habbershon, 2005), understood as all the practices favoring the transmission of the spirit of enterprise from one generation to the next. The second, European in origin (Saporta, 2002), has suggested integrating the family dimension more widely in the study of entrepreneurial processes in general, drawing inspiration from founding work which describes the family environment of the entrepreneur as a sort of “incubator” of their inspiration and action (Filion, 1991). This current suggests breaking the field of entrepreneurship into three major components and giving more attention to the family variable at each of these levels. At the first level, that of the actor-entrepreneur, it seems obvious that the family dimension could have a much bigger place (influence of parental models, roles of parents and spouses, etc.) At the second level, that of action and behaviors, the role of the family could make it possible to better understand how the establishment of a durable organization is progressively structured. At the final level, that of context, the very nature of the questioning suggests integrating the family environment as a contextual structuring factor. Moreover, this is why it has been possible to consider family resources in the widest sense as the principal source of the entrepreneur’s “social capital” (Boutillier & Uzinidis, 1999).

At this prospect, we invite you to develop new and original reflections based on the non-exclusive list of topics given below:

  • Characterizing family entrepreneurship
  • Transmission, acquisition and family entrepreneurship
  • Family entrepreneurship and support systems
  • Sociological approaches to family entrepreneurship
  • International convergences and divergences around family entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship and family influences
  • Collective entrepreneurship vs. family entrepreneurship
  • Performance and family entrepreneurship
  • Family entrepreneurship and gender
  • Organisational entrepreneurship and family strategies
  • Innovation and family entrepreneurship
  • The psychological dimension and family entrepreneurship
  • Family entrepreneurship and social networks
  • Company time and family time
  • Systems of governance and family entrepreneurship
  • Family entrepreneurship and the economic ethos

The editors wish to point out that only work explicitly situated in the area of family entrepreneurship will be considered.

Manuscripts must be submitted by 15 September 2008 at the latest for planned publication in Fall 2009. They should be sent by e-mail to Management International ( The editorial policy of the journal must be rigorously respected with regard to the presentation of the documents submitted. Manuscripts chosen for possible publication will be peer-assessed on the basis of double anonymity.

Basic bibliography

Bird, B., Welsh, H., Astrachan, J.-H., Pistrui, D. (2002), « Family Business Research: the evolution of an academic field », Family Business Review, XV(4), pp. 337-350.

Dyer, G. et Handler, W.-C. (1994), « Entrepreneurship and family business: exploring the connections », Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 19(1), pp. 71-83.

Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (2006), « Theory of the Family Enterprise », Vol. 30, n° 6.

FFI (2007). Facts and Perspectives on family business around the world, Family Firm Institute,

Gersick, K.-E., Davis, J.-A., McCollom Hampton, M. et Lansberg, I. (1997), Generation to Generation : Life Cycles of the Family Business. Boston : Harvard Business School Press.

Journal of Business Venturing (2003), « The Evolving Family / Entrepreneurship Business Relationship », Vol. 18, n°5.

Kenyon-Rouvinez, D. et Ward, J.-L. (2004), Les entreprises familiales, Collection Que Sais-je? Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, France.

Miller, D. et Le Breton-Miller, I. (2005), Managing for the Long Run: Lessons in Competitive Advantage for Great Family Businesses, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, États-Unis.

Sharma, P. (2004), « An overview of the field of family business studies: Current status and directions for the future », Family Business Review, XVII(1), pp. 1-34.