Special workshop theme: “The Family Business: A Beauty or a Beast?”


While having a rich and diverse history based in the practice, family business scholarship has been growing remarkably during recent years. A theme that has intrigued both practitioners and researchers throughout the history of the field is to what extent and under what circumstances the family business represents a “good” or a “bad” type of business organization. Is the family business a beauty? Or is it a beast? Early influential contributions to the family business history, such as Levinson (1971), as well as seminal work in business history (Chandler, 1977), depicted the family business as a beast. This view is also common in research on ‘family capitalism’ (e-g. Morck and Yeung, 2003). However, other more recent work drawing on e.g. the ‘familiness’ (Habbershon and Williams, 1999; Sirmon and Hitt, 2003) or the stewardship (Corbetta and Salvato, 2004; Miller and LeBreton-Miller, 2005) have focused mainly on the beauty of the family business. Interestingly, there is now a tendency in the literature to seek reconciliation between these two positions, or the duality of the family business as beautiful or ugly, e.g. under the concept of socio-emotional wealth (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2007; 2011) or the combination of a stewardship and stagnation perspective (Miller, LeBreton-Miller and Lester, 2010).

We invite papers that address different aspects of the conference theme, including

–          how, why and when the family business is a good, or a bad type of business organization (including their financial and non-financial performance, and/or the implications of assumptions inherent in various theoretical perspectives),

–          how family businesses have been portrayed in published research and/or various media (e.g. by using a discourse lens),

–          how family businesses are portrayed in the arts, such as fiction literature, movies, bibliographies, plays etc., employee perspectives on family businesses, political and sociological perspectives on family firm management.

While submission of papers related to the main theme – the family business a beauty or a beast – are particularly encouraged, the workshop continues its tradition to accept papers relevant to any area of family firm management and which add value to the development of the family business research field, including:

–          literature review papers focusing on the family business field:

– state-of-the-art papers that allow discussing the knowledge already acquired and the main challenges to address in future research,

– papers that use the family firm context for contributing to the development of general management concepts and theories – comparisons between family and non-family firms, but also between different types of family firms belong to this category,

– papers that draws on sophisticated and rigorous analysis of empirical data (both qualitative and quantitative papers are welcomed).


Proposal Submission: 1 March 2012

Author Notification: 15 March 2012

Registration for authors: 15 April 2012

Final Papers: 15 May 2012