Innovation and Family Firms: Past and Future Research Perspectives

Innovation and Family Firms: Past and Future Research Perspectives

Ana María Serrano-Bedia (University of Cantabria, Spain), Jesús Manuel Palma-Ruiz (Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Mexico) and Cinthya Flores-Rivera (Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8012-6.ch018
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This chapter aims to perform a systematic review of the most recent publications in innovation within the field of family business. A comprehensive systematic search in Clarivate Analytics Web of Science through December 2017 allowed the authors to retrieve 389 peer-reviewed articles. After careful screening, the final sample was reduced to 152 documents from 72 journals. The characteristics of the scientific journals, the diverse topics currently addressed, and the main lines of research were identified. The results revealed the existence of a highly diversified field of research with a wide variety of topics, receiving a growing interest and not limited to specialized journals nor a reduced number of researchers. All of this is indicative of an advance in the field to consolidate innovation as a high potential area of study. This allows researchers to reflect on the current status and research opportunities to contribute to the development of this field.
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In today’s environment of globalization and rapid technological change, innovation is critical for the continued growth and vitality of organizations and economies (Garud, Tuertscher, & Van de Ven, 2013). The need to be innovative applies to firms of every size, sector, and ownership type, although not all firms exhibit the same innovative behavior in response to their challenges and problems (Serrano-Bedia, López-Fernández, & Garcia-Piqueres, 2016). Additionally, as it constitutes one of the fundamental components of Corporate Entrepreneurship (Sharma & Chrisman, 1999), innovation can contribute to the impulse of entrepreneurial attitudes conducive to the development of competitive strategies that favor the maintenance and creation of wealth in a sustained manner over time.

In particular, research on innovation management in family firms (FF) shows that these firms have peculiar features and different innovation behaviors based on their risk preferences, resource endowments, and family objectives (De Massis, Frattini, Kotlar, Petruzzelli, & Wright, 2016; Patel & Chrisman, 2014), which may create both advantages and disadvantages in specific dimensions of the innovation process (König, Kammerlander, & Enders, 2013; Lichtenthaler & Muethel, 2012).

The previous literature has highlighted the importance of FF for economies around the world adding significantly to both employment and wealth creation through their contribution to the gross domestic product -e.g., 65% of employment and GDP in Europe, and 60% of employment and 50% of GDP in the USA (Botero, Cruz, Massis, & Nordqvist, 2015; Memili, Fang, Chrisman, & De Massis, 2015). This justifies the increasing research interest in innovation in FF in recent years. Such interest is clearly demonstrated considering that during the period of 2012-2017, journal articles in the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science databases containing family business as a topic exceed 4,000; in addition to the advancement experienced by specialized journals in FF, reaching impact rates in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) equivalent to those of the most prestigious journals in the fields of social sciences or business management (i.e., Family Business Review or the Journal of Family Business Strategy).

Such intense research development experienced in recent years makes it extremely difficult to have an up-to-date, systematic, and comprehensive view of the lines of research present in this field, as well as its current state of development. Consequently, a reflection on the accumulated knowledge is often needed to establish a consensus basis and advance the development of the field. On this regard, Williams and Plouffe (2007) emphasized analysis of knowledge development using a systematic literature review of an academic field as “a critical step in any discipline's growth and maturity” (p. 408). They further stated that a review of articles published in peer-reviewed journals is “one of the most useful and relevant approaches for evaluating a field’s accrued knowledge” (p. 408).

According to Formentini and Romano (2016), a literature review is a structured, explicit, and reproducible design for identifying, evaluating and interpreting the existing body of recorded documents. The main objectives are usually twofold: firstly, to summarize existing research by identifying similar patterns or lines of research; secondly, to support the identification of the conceptual content of the field. In a similar approach, the primary goal of this chapter is to perform a systematic review and content analysis of the most recent publications addressing innovation within the field of family business in journals indexed in the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science (WoS) databases. Therefore, the work described in this chapter makes two main contributions to previous literature. First, it provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of what is known about innovation in family firms, allowing researchers to reflect on the current status of this field. Second, this review identifies research opportunities to help family firm scholars trace a path to further contribute to its development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Family Firms: A family or a group of families with ownership participation in the firm, and family leadership and involvement in management.

Web of Science: A subscription-based service related to scientific citation indexing and searching powered by Clarivate Analytics. It gives access to multiple databases that reference cross-disciplinary research, which allows for in-depth exploration of specialized sub-fields within an academic or scientific discipline.

Scientific Journals: Peer-reviewed academic journals published periodically and related to a particular academic discipline.

Systematic Review: A literature review that uses a systematic method to collect secondary data, analyze and appraise research studies, and synthesize studies.

Social Science Citation Index: The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) is a commercial citation index product of Clarivate Analytics. It was initially developed by the Institute for Scientific Information from the Science Citation Index.

Clarivate Analytics: A company that acquired the intellectual property and science business of Thomson Reuters, and currently operates a collection of subscription-based services, including scientific and academic research.

Innovation: Refers to the implementation of a new or considerably developed good or service, or process, or organizational method in business practices, workplace organization, or external relations.

Lines of Research: Includes a series of published articles on the same topic.

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