To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Business history in family business studies: from neglect to cooperation?

Andrea Colli (Department of Public Policy and Management, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 22 April 2011




This paper seeks to provide a brief overview of what is business history as an academic discipline, with some reflection about its evolutionary patterns and heuristic value in other fields, as for instance, management studies. A peculiar and increasingly practised subfield of business history is that of family business studies, which is thus a promising crossroads and meeting point for both business historians, practitioners and scholars in management studies.


Through an extensive analysis of the literature on family business studies in business history, this article highlights some potential areas of collaboration and suggests some reflections about the way in which the research methods of historians can be beneficial for management scholars.


Business history has in fact a high potential in providing, through its longitudinal and comparative approach, evidence for building new theories and challenging the existing ones.


This article tries to move a step beyond from the consideration of history as a repository of interesting evidence, to a new role for the discipline as an heuristic tool, and new chances of cooperation between historians and management scholars.



Colli, A. (2011), "Business history in family business studies: from neglect to cooperation?", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 14-25.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited