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Organizational structure in family firms: a systematic literature review

Syed Awais Ahmad Tipu (Department of Management, College of Business Administration, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 12 April 2022

Issue publication date: 8 February 2023




This paper provides a review of the academic literature on organizational structure (OS) in family firms, highlighting the contribution to knowledge and identifying research gaps and possible avenues for future research.


Different databases were used to search the relevant literature on OS in family firms, including Scopus, ABI/Inform Global, Business Source Complete, and Emerald Insight. The systematic literature review presents an analysis of 52 studies on OS in family firms.


The literature largely reveals inconsistent findings in terms of the characteristics and outcomes of OS in family firms. The majority of the studies (21) are either survey-based or employ a case study approach (18), with relatively fewer studies (8) being conceptual in nature. A large number of the studies (34) were conducted in developed countries, whereas only nine were undertaken in developing countries. Moreover, 23 studies examine characteristics of OS, 23 studies explore the outcomes, while 15 investigate the antecedents of OS in family firms. The characteristics of OS in family firms relate to the degree of centralization and formalization. The antecedents or factors affecting OS in family firms include cultural values, family influence, need for succession, and ownership and management changes. The positive outcomes of OS include legacy building, enhancing entrepreneurial orientation, and efficiency. The negative outcomes of OS include exploitation of fewer opportunities, maintaining the status quo, and adverse effects on sustainability initiatives.


Existing reviews generally explore the highest level of OS in family firms. The current review complements this debate and reviews OS in family firms from the perspective of the lower and operational levels. As such, the current review is both timely and relevant, as it identifies limitations of the available literature as well as suggests avenues for future research.



Ahmad Tipu, S.A. (2023), "Organizational structure in family firms: a systematic literature review", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 76-91.



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