Should Family Firms Be More Professional?


It is commonly argued that family firms would operate more effectively if they would behave more like nonfamily firms and “professionalize” their management. But is this a viable solution for every family business?

Alex Stewart of Marquette University joined Karen Vinton on the Family Business Review podcast to discuss his article, “Why Can’t a Family Business Be More Like a Nonfamily Business? Modes of Professionalization in Family Firms,” published in the March 2012 issue of FBR and co-authored by Michael A. Hitt of Texas A&M University. The paper is this year’s winner of FBR’s Best Article Award.

FBR_72ppiRGB_150pixW“What we mean by ‘family firm’ can be a lot of different things,” Professor Stewart says. “So what we do in this paper is we suggest that there are, in terms of this distinction between highly professional and not-so-professional firms, six ways in which we find this bearing out with family businesses.” Click here to download the podcast interview, or subscribe on iTunes by following this link.

Alex Stewart photo1Alex Stewart is Professor of Management and  Coleman Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurship at Marquette University.  His four degrees, all from York University in Toronto, are in business, political science, and social anthropology.  He has been Chair of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management, and Program Chair of both the Organization Science Winter Conference and the Family Enterprise Research Conference. His area of expertise is social anthropological approaches to entrepreneurship, with particular reference to kinship. For example, he is the author of a paper on the anthropology of family business in the SAGE Handbook of Family Business (2013).

karen_vintonKaren 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

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