A new strategy for JFBM

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 7 October 2014



Collins, L. (2014), "A new strategy for JFBM", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 4 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFBM-09-2014-0021



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

A new strategy for JFBM

Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Family Business Management, Volume 4, Issue 2

Welcome to Volume 4 Issue 2 of JFBM. During the past six months the JFBM editorial team has been considering what strategic direction the journal should take in the next five years. We have spoken with many scholars and practitioners and other journal editors in an effort to craft our new strategy. We are instituting some exciting and innovative developments which will propel JFBM to the top of the journal rankings. I would like to share some of these developments with you.

JFBM has recommitted itself to publishing research in all aspects of family business and to continue its focus on behavioural and applied research. In addition in future we will be focusing on the impact of research on policy and practice. JFBM aims to communicate the latest family business research and knowledge worldwide for the benefit of scholars and family business practitioners.

Our new focus on government policy and its impact on family business

Keeping in mind the importance of family businesses to the global economy we wish to ensure that all of our research articles address the “policy” question. A great deal of work related to family business is being conducted on the policy front in Europe and the USA.

According to the latest Ernst and Young, Worldwide Family Business Tax Guide 2014, “family-owned businesses are very influential in American business and tax policy. The issues most often addressed by family businesses are of a general economic and tax policy nature rather than strictly limited to family owned businesses. Family businesses influence policy through trade associations and through funding political action committees which are focused on issue of interest to the family enterprise” (p. 504). There are a number of ongoing important policy discussions which impact US family businesses, such as, the federal estate tax provision. A long running battle to change this provision resulted in recent amendments being made and while the movement to have this tax repealed has slowed it will always be a topic of future legislation[1] and certainly estate tax planning is an important consideration for managers of family businesses.

A recent UK publication from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, conducted by the Policy Research Group at Durham Business School, of 40 family-owned businesses (interviews conducted during the month of February) provides interesting reading.

This study found that:

[…]the majority of interviewees agreed that they owned a “family business”. A small number identified pejorative connotations, but most considered the terminology beneficial: it projected a positive image, implying trustworthiness, longevity, tradition and/or an ethical outlook. Several spontaneously noted that it meant the opposite of being “a large corporate”.

A very small minority considered that they were only a family business by default as a result of the definition being utilised (based purely on ownership), and were not a “family business” in any other meaningful way.

Challenges generally arose through simply being a small business, rather than a family business, as did some strengths, such as autonomy. However, these challenges and strengths may be exacerbated or ameliorated by aspects of “familiness” (e.g. that this engenders trust, loyalty and shared objectives), which in turn may also encourage the greater likelihood of a more idiosyncratic management style being adopted (UK Gov, 2014, p. 1)[2].

What is important about this study is that it shows a renewed willingness on the part of the UK government to explore the thinking and perceptions of family businesses. The report concludes that, “a high proportion of micro businesses are family businesses. As such, support policy aimed at micros is, in effect, family business support policy by default”, which means that in future we might expect UK policy to be more sensitive to family business needs at the micro business level.

The report also highlighted that “among family business owners’ suggestions for intervention it was proposed that business support should reflect a greater awareness of potential family issues in its delivery”. The report also concluded that “there is a more substantive rationale for providing targeted support for larger family businesses, where the nature of challenges faced diverges from those faced by non-family SMEs to a greater extent” (p. 62).

Given this renewed policy focus in the UK and the ongoing interest in policy in the USA JFBM would like to highlight the policy implications of research in family businesses. We would like to encourage all researchers who publish in JFBM to consider the impact of their work on policy making and implementation in their respective countries.

In considering our future, we have chosen to recommit JFBM to provide an educative experience to all authors and reviewers. This means that JFBM will seek to provide a service that helps all stakeholders to learn from the JFBM publishing experience. To this end we will be improving our guidance and support materials for authors and reviewers and making this information available on the web site.

Also in future, we will be asking authors to address, if it is relevant to their research study, this question: will the findings of this research have an impact on family business advisors and if yes what will that impact be? In asking authors to consider this issue we are attempting to encourage the linking of theory development with practice.

JFBM would also like to encourage scholars to undertake longitudinal research and in order to support this we will be commissioning authors who are engaged in longitudinal studies to publish their work as a series, i.e. commissioning a series of articles that will report on a longitudinal piece of research. The aim here is to provide confidence to authors that they have a home for their work while it is ongoing thus encouraging publication of longitudinal research in a timely and relevant manner.

Furthermore, we are implementing two new formats and types of articles that will become regular additions in every issue of JFBM. These new formats are described as follows.

“In conversation with”

In this issue you will find the first of a new type of paper which will now be a regular feature in every issue. Our first “In conversation with” paper features an intriguing and controversial discussion with three UK family business advisors. This paper is a co-authored and edited version of an hour-long conversation between leading family business practitioners.

For our first “In conversation with” paper I invited Dr Barbara Murray, Ken McCracken and Martin Stepek to talk about “strong governance in family businesses”. Dr Barbara Murray is a consultant, teacher and writer on family business matters. Barbara specializes in working with family businesses during succession transitions and in the implementation of systems of governance for the family enterprise.

Ken McCracken is the co-founder of Withers Consulting Group and an acknowledged leading light in consultancy to successful families and entrepreneurs. In 1995 Ken helped Barbara found the Centre for Family Enterprise and he is also a past recipient of the Family Firm Institute (FFI) Award for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Achievement.

Martin Stepek has a diverse portfolio career covering business, literature, politics, mental well-being, and Scottish-Polish relationships. Martin co-founded the Scottish Family Business Association in 2006 to bring global best practices for family businesses to Scotland. In 2011 he won the prestigious UK Family Business Ties lifetime award for services to family businesses.

The “In conversation with” paper is a candid and insightful exploration of “what constitutes strong governance”. The three experts discuss: what constitutes successful governance in the family business? How useful are current governance tools and methods? They also suggest some areas of future research.

“Mini literature review”

JFBM is also putting out a call for another new format of article. The Mini Literature Review article will be an abbreviated and slimmed down, lean and concise version of the traditional literature review. This new format is designed to be both author and reader friendly. Our aim is to encourage all scholars to publish their literature review work by making the literature review format shorter and more concise hopefully making it more accessible to scholar and reader alike.

We would particularly like to receive Mini Literature Review articles that contain very recent work. So if you are in the process right now of conducting a literature review for a thesis or a journal paper, please consider taking your review and developing it into a Mini Literature Review paper. We really want to encourage the latest, freshest thinking so, where relevant and appropriate, a Mini Literature Review paper should contain sources from the most recent conference proceedings and workshops and also industry or trade publications and commissioned research.

The objective of the Mini Literature Review article is to highlight a particular topic or series of linked topics in a quick and easy way; highlighting where the gaps are in the literature; and highlighting where there are areas for research development.

There are five types of literature review summary article which JFBM will accept. Each has a different focus and feel and particular specifications:

1. Definitional focus: this type of article is focused on the definition of a topic or term and aims to answer the question of “what do we really mean when we say […]”, for example, “corporate social responsibility”. This article will provide a detailed discussion of the many different definitions and considerations of definition for a particular topic. Primarily, its focus is on how a particular topic might be evolving or how a particular topic might be being spoken of and treated in a certain way within family business but may be treated differently in another area of study. Furthermore this article would pose the various ways in which a term, e.g. corporate social responsibility, might be considered. What are the parameters of the definition? It might be size, ownership, age, etc. This article seeks to provide clear guidance about what one needs to consider when developing a particular research subject.

2. Narrative focus: the aim of this article is to tell the story of the development of a particular area of study to show the theoretical development of the subject over time, or to focus on the subject at the present time – a “state of the subject” story approach.

3. Scholar focus: the aim of this article is to highlight the work of a particular scholar. So this type of mini literature review paper would choose the work of a particular scholar, e.g. John Davis, and then explain how his work had developed over time and to wrestle with the key arguments/philosophies/thrust of their work. This article would also provide a concise and coherent critique.

4. Evaluative focus: the focus of this article is to highlight the quality, depth, value, range and spread of the literature in a particular topic. The aim of this article is to provide detailed information about the value of the research available on a particular topic/theory/subject.

5. Relational focus: the focus of this article is to highlight the relationship between different approaches and aims to provide a detailed picture of how the various studies identified in the review have contributed to the subject landscape, for example:

    • epistemological comparisons;

    • macro versus micro approaches; and

    • longitudinal vs snap-shot approaches.

In this issue

Once again I am very pleased to introduce our latest issue to you. Yet again this issue represents a multi-cultural author line-up featuring papers from the USA, Malaysia, Scotland and Italy.

Helmle et al. (2014) report on a project that explored the factors influencing perceptions of work-life balance among owners of copreneurial firms. They found that work-life conflict was negatively related to perceptions of work-life balance. Interestingly spousal support did not affect individual perceptions of life-work balance, but had a direct influence on perceptions of work-life balance. This paper contributes to our understanding of copreneurial firms as a unique type of family firm. It is particularly welcome as the interest in copreneurial firms is increasing. Recent articles, conferences and reports that I have read were published in Taiwan, India and England.

Another “hot” topic in family business circles is ethics. An interesting contribution to the ethical discourse is made by Yusof et al. (2014). Their paper explores a third general standard for social initiatives called “virtue ethics”. They describe a single case study of a Malaysian family business in the publishing industry and its practice of virtuous social initiatives based on Islamic values and principles. This case study focuses our attention on the notion of “virtue ethics”, a subject which is largely absent from the western discourse about ethics.

Smith's (2014) engaging conceptual paper explores the under researched interface between entrepreneur and family business stories and in particular the form and structure of second-generation entrepreneur stories. His paper illustrates how second-generation entrepreneur stories can be (co)authored to narrate an alternative entrepreneurial identity within a family business setting. It also highlights some very practical implications in relation to conflict resolution within family businesses in that the storying process allows individuals the freedom to author their own stories and place in family and family business history. Smith seeks to help us see how by understanding the interface between entrepreneur and family business stories we can further understanding the complex dynamic of entrepreneurs stories.

Laffranchini and Braun's (2014) paper discusses a study that reconciles the debate on the role of slack on family firms’ performance by proposing a curvilinear relationship between available slack and firm performance in Italian family-controlled public firms (FCPFs) from 2006 to 2010. While their study marginally replicates US-based findings on the impact of board characteristics and slack resources in FCPFs, they did find that results for Italian FCPFs diverge over those of US ones, suggesting that board structures play a differential role in their respective governance environments. This insightful paper really highlights similarities and differences between firms in Italy and the USA.

Anders Kjellman's paper presents a model of family business participation which attempts to explain why somebody chooses to become a member of the family business. The model is based on field theory and looks at entrepreneurship behaviour. The central construct that is discussed in the paper is the psychological life space of the individual.

For the first time, we present a teaching case study written by Dr Catherine Pratt, Pacific Lutheran University, USA. This case study is a terrific narrative about how a tragic accident has a dramatic impact on succession within a family business. The case explores a not uncommon situation with sensitivity and insight.

Thank you for reading this issue of JFBM. We hope you will embrace some of our new innovations and we look forward to continuing to read your submissions.

Lorna Collins





Helme, J.R., Botero, C. and Seibold, D.R. (2014), “Factors that influence perceptions of work-life balance in owners of corpreneurial firms”, Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 110-132

Laffranchini, G. and Braun, M. (2014), “Slack in family firms: evidence from Italy (2006-2010)”, Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 171-193

Smith, R. (2014), “Authoring second-generation entrepreneur and family business stories”, Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 149-170

Yusof, M., Mohd Nor, L. and Hoopes, J.E. (2014), “Virtuous CSR: an Islamic family business in Malaysia”, Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 133-148

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