March Issue of Family Business Review

Read the March Issue of the Family Business Review, and stay up to date with the latest research on Family Business and Family Firms.
fbra_30_2.coverFamily Business Review (FBR) a refereed journal published quarterly since 1988, is a scholarly publication devoted exclusively to the exploration of the dynamics of family-controlled enterprise, including firms ranging in size from the very large to the relatively small.

To read more about the issue click here.

To contribute to the scholarship please visit the submissions page.


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Theorizing Business and Local Peacebuilding

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jason Miklian of the University of Oslo, and Juan Pablo Medina Bickel of the Universidad de los Andes. They recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “Theorizing Business and Local Peacebuilding Through the “Footprints of Peace” Coffee Project in Rural Colombia,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Miklian reflects on the impact and innovations of this research:


In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field

We see this article having three major impacts. First, the role of business in peacebuilding is an exciting but still emerging field, carrying many more questions than answers for scholars at present. These questions cut to the core of business roles in society, asking if, how and why firms can make a positive impact in some of the most fragile and conflict-affected parts of the world. Colombia is in many ways the ideal country to study such interactions, as it is perhaps the world’s most significant policy ‘laboratory’ for national and multinational private sector involvement in peace. Business scholars could use this case as a springboard to explore other such cases in Colombia, or similar cases in other countries, to help us collectively better refine the conditions for successful business engagement in peaceful development.

Second, we (the authors) tend to lean critical in our understandings of where and how the private sector can and should play a peacebuilding role, backed by a substantial amount of research by ourselves and others on how well-intended ventures can fail in practice. Despite our skepticism, we found that the Footprints of Peace (FOP) project made a measurable, positive, and significant positive impact on thousands of people in Colombia. Thus, a case like FOP can help show peacebuilding scholars (who also tend to lean critical) that businesses can indeed play positive peace roles in peacebuilding. The next wave of research on this topic will hopefully further refine the conditions for such to improve the likelihood for more business-peace success stories.

Third, this article uses a rigorous qualitative model as its foundation with quantitative analysis in a supporting fashion. We hope that this structure can help show the added value that qualitative and mixed-methods research can have in research on business and society, delivering deeper and richer findings than a quantitative model alone can express.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

(JM) I’m of course biased, but I truly feel that the role of business in peace and development is one of the most important and yet least researched fields of study today. Part of the reason for this, frankly, it’s that it’s hard work. As practitioner Mary Anderson is fond of saying, “Peace is not for amateurs.” Peacebuilding is a complex, messy, non-linear task filled with conceptual and practical potholes, and the same goes for research on peacebuilding. Adding in the private sector complicates matters even more, as it carries its own set of interests, aims and needs. Further, research in conflict environments carries its own set of ethical considerations and issues both for the subjects of study as well as for the researchers themselves – before, during and after such research is done.

Nevertheless, these interactions are a cornerstone of business involvement in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Institutions) in particular, representing some $2 trillion in business investment globally. Those wishing to look at these issues will be rewarded by being on the forefront of business and society topics today, and I deeply and warmly encourage business scholars in particular to do so. One way to help bridge the knowledge gap is through co-authorship. This article was much stronger as a joint effort than anything that either Juan Pablo or myself could have written alone. Beyond the natural advantages that co-authorship can provide in expanding ideas, rationales, and providing checks and balances, we brought complementary knowledge and expertise to the project, not only across disciplines but also across cultures. I see a great opportunity for deeper engagement between peace and business scholars in just these sorts of studies, helping bridge conceptual divides and not least help unite these two communities on a topic that both are increasingly drawn towards.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

(JPMB) All the beautiful people that I got to meet. Their smiles, their interest to be heard and their willingness to share some of their deepest and most painful personal experiences. The charm with which I was embraced with at some farms, and of course the dozens of cups of coffee that people offered to me, including many made from home-cultivated coffee, picked, toasted and finally prepared with the same hands that I shook. In academia, large conflict databases can blur the meaning and stories behind the numbers, so fieldwork is an extremely important way to build knowledge and scholarship in a more personal and human way. Getting to know the meaning behind a single data point, and the person that is represented behind it and their life stories, can lead to research that better respects and honors those that we study. Moreover, I am a Colombian citizen who has lived most of his life in a violent country. Due to this, I’m aware of many social, political and economic struggles throughout my daily life, and my country requires a new generation of people aiming to change the current political climate.

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Understanding How Business Influences Public Policy

congress-column-1018004_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors David Coen of University College London and Matia Vannoni of the Università Bocconi. They recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “The Strategic Management of Government Affairs in Brussels,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Vannoni reflects on the motivations and innovations of this research:


What motivated you to pursue this research?

Business touches every aspect of regulation and as such, understanding how business influences public policy and how it organizes political affairs is important. While government affairs have been well studied in the US and concepts such as revolving doors are now the accepted norm, we decided to focus on government affairs in the EU and explore how a different political institutional structure and business culture may affect business political action and organization.

As such, we decided it was time someone started to unbox the company and look at what is going on inside. This project seeks to study the day to day functioning of government affairs inside firms, asking questions like: who works in government affairs in companies, where these managers come from (where they studied and where they worked previously), which role they have inside the firm and so on.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Traditional approaches in management, political science and economics help us understand many aspects of corporate political activity, but not how government affairs are organized within the firm. This project studies how the political institutional environment affects the firms’ micro strategic decisions, such as the size, political functions and staffing of government affairs.

The project is innovative in both its data collection and empirical focus. First, the paper seeks to build an original data set on EU business political organization. Previous studies have tended to focus on single case studies and have been US focused. In this project, for the first time, we create a sample of more than 300 companies from different countries and industries and, by relying on different sources, we map their EU corporate political activities and the organization of their government affairs. We gathered data on how much companies spend in lobbying activities, whether they use external consultancies, how many individuals they employ in their government affairs office, who these individuals are, what their functions are and so on. As such, this is the first study of this kind.

It terms of findings, we show that in Brussels we see less “revolving doors” between business and EU institutions, rather the process is more a “sliding door” mechanism, where influence is a function of expertize, credibility and reputation. As such, the staff in government affairs is more likely to be technical experts, with long run careers in the industry rather than former politicians and civil servants.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

The advice we give to new scholars who wish to study corporate political activity is to always try to create bridges between disciplines, both theoretically and empirically. For instance, this project bridges the gap between the political science literature on lobbying and the management literature on capabilities. Yet, this is not enough. Future research in this field should continue this cross-fertilization, by, for instance, looking at how the public management literature might help explain the interaction between business and society. At the empirical level we would encourage the collection of large-N data, increased comparative research and potentially the introduction of experiments, which are currently in vogue in public management.

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Monument photo attributed to ssalae. (CC)

The Impact of Religion-Based Caste System on the Dynamics of Indian Trade Unions

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jatin Pandey and Biju Varkkey of the Indian Institute of Management. They recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “Impact of Religion-Based Caste System on the Dynamics of Indian Trade Unions: Evidence From Two State-Owned Organizations in North India,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Pandey reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

BAS_v50_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Caste and trade unions are two important stratification schemas prevalent in India but their interaction has been under-researched. Ramaswamy’s study in South India, which was conducted in 1976, had dealt with the issue of caste and trade unions directly and was based on empirical data collected from the unions of textile workers in Coimbatore. After that, there has been passing references to caste as an important facet in unions or opinion pieces by authors based on their personal observations; but there had been a paucity of studies, which look at the interface of caste and unions based on systematic data collection and analysis.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings surprise revelations?

Gathering data on the sensitive topic of caste was the most challenging. The political undertones of the topic make people skeptical about discussing it freely. In our research, initially, the trade union members negated the influence of caste in modern times however as we continued with the interview they revealed that caste not only had an impact in the workspace but their social space as well.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Caste is a very sensitive and politically active topic in India and while interviewing researcher must be aware of these controversies and tensions. Continuous engagement with the respondents, developing trust and having an open communication regarding your intentions as a researcher aids during the interview process. Once the respondents get to understand that you are a “researchers” and not “politicians”; they open up easily and reveal data in the form of lived experiences and actual stories that provide rich data useful for in-depth studies. Also, it is not a good idea to start with the questions on caste during the initial phase of the interview, it’s better to start with topics like trade unions and then move on to caste



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A Reflection by David Jiang on “More Than Meets the Eye”

[We’re pleased to welcome authors David S. Jiang of Georgia Southern University, Franz W. Kellermans of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Timothy P. Munyon of the  University of Tennessee, and M. Lane Morris of the University of Tennessee. They recently published an article in the Family Business Review entitled “More Than Meets the Eye: A Review and Future Directions for the Social Psychology of Socioemotional Wealth,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Jiang reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

fbra_30_2.coverThis research is based on the first author’s dissertation, which is a winner of the Family Firm Institute’s 2017 Best Dissertation Award. The article reviews 421 papers published across 25 journals during the past decade to propose new directions for the social psychology of socioemotional wealth (SEW), which is a popular concept and theoretical perspective in the family business literature that deals with the nonpecuniary benefits that family members derive from control over their family firm.

What motivated you to pursue this research?
SEW research has helped significantly advance the family business literature since Luis Gomez-Mejia and colleagues first introduced SEW in 2007. However, although SEW research has already done a lot for the literature, we also believe that it can do so much more. Motivated by these beliefs, we originally spent 2 years (2014-2015) in the review process at the Academy of Management Review (AMR) trying to outline the emotional aspects of SEW, only to have our work rejected in the last round on a split editorial team decision. After this rejection, we realized that what we really needed to do was review the SEW literature in ways that would first establish a foundation to understand the many psychological phenomena that fit within SEW research. This is why we are thrilled to have our work on this subject published in Family Business Review (FBR) – a high-quality outlet that can help further the psychological understanding of various SEW phenomena and outcomes.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research?
We think that the most challenging aspects probably came from the review process. We were trying to say something that was connected to but very different from what existing SEW research has already said and/or done. Naturally, it’s often difficult to seamlessly communicate novel ideas in ways that reviewers will immediately understand with a first draft. Recognizing this, after we received feedback from the first round of FBR reviews, we realized that we had to extensively change our analytical strategy and approach in order to be as comprehensive as possible. This way, we could address the reviewers’ many concerns while still maintaining our core message and contributions. Although our original submission to FBR reviewed 41 SEW articles, as can be seen in the published article, our final sample included 421 articles. Altogether, it was extremely challenging to increase the review’s scope by more than ten-fold in a 3-month revision window! Needless to say, the first author spent a lot of late nights culling through the expansive SEW literature to create an action plan that utilized the authorship team’s collective strengths and expertise.

How do you think your research will impact the field?
It is difficult to tell at first but we hope that our article will ultimately help build stronger family firm microfoundations. We think there are a lot of novel directions that SEW and broader family firm research could go from here and hope that other scholars will agree and join us in these pursuits!


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Family Constitution and Business Performance: Moderating Factors

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Rocio Arteaga and Susana Menéndez-Requejo of the University of Oviedo, Spain. They recently published an article in the Family Business Review entitled “Family Constitution and Business Performance: Moderating Factors,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

Family Constitution is a relevant instrument that is used in practice for facilitating the continuity of family businesses. Nevertheless few academic studies have studied Family Protocols, due to the difficulty in obtaining pertinent information at both the aggregate and company levels.

However, Spain is characterized by an above-average implementation of Family Protocols and the prominent development of institutions that are linked to family businesses. The Family Business Institute of Spain ( is an important international leader regarding initiatives such as the Network of Family Business Chairs that exists throughout the Spanish university system and the Family Business Regional Associations that are present and active in every region in Spain.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

We performed in-depth interviews with expert consultants who specialize in Family Constitutions to grasp primary components of a Family Constitutions. We have also analyzed a unique sample of 530 Spanish family businesses. Half of these firms received financial aid from the government to implement a Family Protocol during 2003-2013.

We present possible explanations to expect a positive relationship between Family Constitutions and future firm performance, primarily linked to its ability to reduce conflicts among family, shareholders and managers. We specifically explore the improvement in monitoring managers and firm professionalization, the improved alignment between firm owners that shareholder agreements entail, and the communication and transparency between family members that Family Constitutions foster.

We expect that this research promotes that business families engage in the complex and lengthy communication and agreements process of Family Constitutions with determination. Even during times of economic crisis, we observed that companies that had implemented a Family Protocol reported higher levels of firm performance growth.

We also expect that this article encourages family firm scholars to develop future studies regarding the topic of Family Constitutions.

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

A Family Protocol is the result of a process of communication and agreements among owners of a family business that are collated in a written document that includes a set of rules and procedures for governing family business relationships and is signed and ratified by each family member.
Family Constitutions address the firm history, the future vision of the family firm, include norms and rules for family members regarding their incorporation into the business, succession planning, shareholder agreements (transfer of shares, dividends, firm valuation), and develop power structures in the firm and the family in regard to the company (Board of Directors, Family Council). Protocols improve and channel communication, information (also prior to decision-making) and transparency among family members who are in some manner linked to the firm and guide future generations. Family Constitutions contribute to improving the coexistence and cohesion of family generations that are linked to the firm.

We observe that family businesses that implemented a Family Constitution had significantly improved performance within 2 years after the implementation. This positive relationship between the implementation of a Family Constitution and future firm performance is stronger for firms that had a nonfamily CEO, had multiple family owners, or were controlled by later generations.

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Business and Society Special Issues on Digital Technology and Business Responsibilities

ball-63527_1920Business and Society just recently published its new special issue titled “The Governance of Digital Technology, Big Data, and the Internet: New Roles and Responsibilities for Business.” This Issue features a collection of articles that explore how new technologies and innovations have changed the social responsibilities of businesses. What does the digital age hold for corporate social responsibility?


Business & Society aims to be the leading, peer-reviewed outlet for scholarly work dealing specifically with the intersection of business and society. They publish research that develops, tests and refines theory, and which enhances our understanding of important societal issues and their relation to business. It is the official journal of the International Association of Business and Society.

To read more about the issue click here.



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Data photo attributed to geralt. (CC)