[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Jianhua Ge of the Renmin University of China, Dr. Michael Carney of the Concordia University, and Dr. Franz Kellermanns of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and WHU. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Who Fills Institutional Voids? Entrepreneurs’ Utilization of Political and Family Ties in Emerging Markets,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Ge speaks about the motivations, innovations, and impact of this research :]
What motivated you to pursue this research
Acquiring resources is always challenging for private entrepreneurs, particularly when the market channels are absent or poorly developed, which is common in many emerging markets including China. A possible solution suggested by prior studies is to engage in political networking, and entrepreneurs can pursue and utilize political ties to fill those prevalent institutional voids. But, as also suggested by prior research, to cultivate and maintain political ties is highly costly, and the “grabbing hand” of the political actor can also bring risks and harms. As such, entrepreneurs are not always willing and able to develop the political ties. Then how are they overcoming the resource barriers to start and grow their business? Actually, scholars in family business already mention the functional role of kin or family ties, but the empirical studies are rare and the efforts to bridge these two fields of political and family ties are missing. We are thus motivated to investigate the roles of political ties and family ties in filling institutional voids as entrepreneurs try to acquire resources.
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
While the fields of political networking and family business are disconnected, we draw on insights from political and family embeddedness and argue that both political ties and family ties can help entrepreneurs acquire resources when facing institutional voids. Our study suggests that when family ties are relatively available, entrepreneurs’ intentions to cultivate political ties to fill institutional voids are weaker. This is because family ties can be alternative sources of resources and, compared to potentially costly political ties, family tie has its own advantages. We further show that to effectively utilize these family ties, considering family members’ motivation to use their resources and the family owner’s mobilization capability are both necessary. These findings enrich and deepen our understanding of entrepreneurs’ networking strategies in acquiring resources. They also shed light on the unique value of family ties, which is largely ignored by the mainstream management but definitely should be considered.
What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
In this project, we integrated sociopolitical and cultural perspectives. As scholars extend key topics or processes in entrepreneurship and family firm research, we suggest linking different theoretical perspectives to generate new insights. Accordingly, we encourage scholars with distinct backgrounds further topics in entrepreneurship and family firm research.
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