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Interfirm cooperation and engagement barriers in a family business context

Elisabeth Baía (Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)
Mário Franco (Department of Management and Economics; CEFAGE-UBI Research Center, Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 6 July 2021

Issue publication date: 31 January 2023




This study aims to understand to what extent family firms engage in and understand the importance of cooperation whilst analysing the underlying barriers that may restrain cooperative engagement.


Considering the purpose of this study, a qualitative exploratory approach is adopted, using a multiple case study methodology, consisting of four cases. Thus, interviews were chosen as the source of data collection, as this allows proximity and involvement with those with power to engage in cooperation.


The results highlight that family business particularities seem to have an aggravating effect on the general barriers to cooperative engagement. Managerial characteristics such as risk aversion, concern about independence and emotional attachment to the business, along with a lack of qualified knowledge, seem to be the most salient obstacles.

Practical implications

Interfirm cooperation has become more vital for organizational success. However, empirical contributions regarding the barriers to engaging in cooperation, especially within a family business context, are limited. This study seeks to present theoretical barriers to engaging in interfirm cooperation and effectively link them within a family business context.


Being structured around the underlying challenges for interfirm cooperation, this paper contributes to advancing this specific research stream and presents practical contributions for managers for more effective implementation.



The authors are grateful to the anonymous referees of the journal for their extremely useful suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from National Funds of the FCT – Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology within the project «UIDB/04007/2020».


Baía, E. and Franco, M. (2023), "Interfirm cooperation and engagement barriers in a family business context", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 368-386.



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