[We’re pleased to welcome Robert E. Evert of Texas Tech University. Dr. Evert recently published an article in Family Business Review with John A. Martin, Michael S. McLeod and G. Tyge Payne entitled “Empirics in Family Business Research: Progress, Challenges, and the Path Ahead.”
- What inspired you to be interested in this topic?
My colleagues and I have always believed it is important to question commonly held beliefs within a field of study. Being that several of the authors are burgeoning family business researchers, we used this notion as a springboard for a review of the family business literature. More specifically, we knew the significant role of empirics as one of the ways to legitimate family business studies. Given this, along with recent assertions of improvement in methods and analytics, we were curious why the state of empirics in family business remains generally unsubstantiated and uncertain. So, as the review of the empirical literature developed and progressed, our interest in the topic accumulated and was reinforced as we became more aware of its timeliness and relevance.
- Were there findings that were surprising to you?
Taken together, we reviewed the use of empirics, both methodological and analytical, in 465 published empirical articles (319 from FBR and 146 from prominent business journals not solely dedicated to family business research). Armed with the assumptions of increasing empirical rigor in family business studies, our review documents increased sophistication and complexity of the empirics used over time. So while not entirely unexpected, we were pleased to substantiate significant increases in the use, among family business researchers, of more sophisticated analysis techniques including hierarchical analysis, panel data, logistic regression and structural equation modeling.
One interesting finding was the lack of attention to cross-border and internationally comparative issues. This suggests that family business studies are looking past the global aspects and presence of family businesses, making it difficult for family business researchers to understand how studies contribute to our overall understanding of family business — apart from basic contextual differences. Another interesting finding was the paucity of meta-analytic studies. Despite such gaps, we highlight many empirical advancements and note the many opportunities that remain when researching family businesses. Overall, we expect that family business researchers will take pride in the additional legitimacy and relevancy our findings lend to the field. However, we think our results may be surprising to researchers in the broader strategy and entrepreneurship areas of study, particularly those that often cite methodological shortcomings in rigor and analysis.
- How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?
Our review not only provides a comprehensive view of the field’s empirical progression over an extended length of time, but was conducted with an eye to the future. As such, we leverage the review’s core findings to offer a number of related challenges and opportunities for family business scholars to consider. These prescriptions may ultimately be the most valuable for future research since they possess great potential to inform specific topics (e.g., succession, governance) with regard to empirics. So while this review advocates for more criticality and skillful judgment of existing literature, we hope that our results encourage future researchers to depart from some of the more normative perspectives that dictate family business research. This should lead to a richer body of family business research that considers new, more sophisticated, and empirically-robust research questions, especially given the increasing complexity and proliferation of data and advanced statistical software.
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Robert E. Evert is a doctoral candidate in strategy and entrepreneurship at Texas Tech University. He focuses his research program on family firms, including topics such as strategic decisions, research methods, and cross-cultural effects. Additional areas of interest include TMTs, corporate venture capital, and crowdfunding. His research appears in Journal of Business Ethics (JBE) and Family Business Review (FBR), and has been presented at conferences such as Academy of Management and Southern Management Association. Following completion of his degree program, he will join the faculty of the Department of Management at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
John A. Martin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Management at Wright State University. His research interests include research methods in family business, international business pedagogy, and corporate governance, specifically boards of directors and chief executive officers. His work has appeared in Family Business Review (FBR), Business Horizons, and Academy of Management Perspectives, and he is an editorial board member of Management Communication Quarterly. Prior to joining Wright State, he held the position of Professor of Management at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Michael S. McLeod is a doctoral candidate in strategic management and entrepreneurship at Texas Tech University. His research investigates phenomena centering on how firms strategically develop and use rhetoric to achieve positive organizational outcomes. He also examines relationships between entrepreneurial firms and their funding source, such as venture capitalists, angel investors, crowdfunding, and IPOs. He has been the recipient of several best paper awards, multiple research grants awards, and recently earned the 2015 award for outstanding contributions to research as a management doctoral student at Texas Tech University. His research can be found in journals including Journal of Business Ethics (JBE) and Family Business Review (FBR).
G. Tyge Payne, Ph.D., is the Jerry S. Rawls Professor of Strategic Management at Texas Tech University. His research interests include configurations, firm-level entrepreneurship, organizational ethics, multi-level methods, social capital, and temporality. He has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications appearing in Business Ethics Quarterly, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (ET&P), Family Business Review (FBR), Journal of Management (JOM), Journal of Management Studies, Organizational Research Methods, Organization Science, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal (SEJ), among other outlets. He is an Associate Editor for FBR and currently serves on review boards for ET&P, Group and Organization Management, Journal of Small Business Management, JOM, and SEJ.