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Entrepreneurial orientation, competitive advantage and strategic knowledge management capability in Malaysian family firms

Md Imtiaz Mostafiz (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Mathew Hughes (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Murali Sambasivan (Thiagarajar School of Management, Madurai, India)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 9 August 2021

Issue publication date: 22 February 2022




The purpose of this study is to test the thesis that the family firm’s success hinges on effective strategic knowledge management (SKM) capability coupled with an entrepreneurial orientation (EO). Contingency theory holds that entrepreneurial success is contingent on strategic capabilities and resource orchestration theory explains how well family firms nurture capabilities to structure, bundle and leverage resources that define competitive advantage (CA). This study combines these two theoretical viewpoints to propose the effects of EO and SKM capability on CA to achieve successful performance in family firms.


This study uses a hybrid approach applying structural equation modelling (SEM) and deep-learning artificial intelligence (DL-AI) analysis to survey data on 268 Malaysian family firms.


SEM results confirm that CA mediates the relationship between innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking dimensions of EO and firm performance. Autonomy and competitive aggressiveness have no bearing, however. The relationships among innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking with CA and performance are positively moderated by SKM capability, becoming more potent at higher levels. Moreover, four additional DL-AI models reveal the necessity of specific EO dimensions and the interacting effects of EO–SKM capability to influence CA and to attain performance success subsequently.


This study theorizes and presents two new boundary conditions to a knowledge-based theory of the family firm and its firm performance. First, CA mediates the relationship between EO and performance; and second, SKM capability moderates the relationships between EO and CA and between EO and family firm performance. Methodologically, this study uses DL-AI to embrace non-linearity and prioritize predictor variables based on normalized importance to produce greater accuracy over regression analysis. Hence, DL-AI adds methodological novelty to the knowledge management and family firm literature.



The authors want to thank Alfredo De Massis, Unai Arzubiaga, Frank Hoy and Nadine Kammerlander for their excellent editorship. They also thank the anonymous reviewers for their exceptional comments in each round of revision.


Mostafiz, M.I., Hughes, M. and Sambasivan, M. (2021), "Entrepreneurial orientation, competitive advantage and strategic knowledge management capability in Malaysian family firms", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 423-458.



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