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Family firms (FF) reveal a considerable heterogeneity in their innovation behavior. Due to the successful long-term preservation of their innovation capacity via special…
Family firms (FF) reveal a considerable heterogeneity in their innovation behavior. Due to the successful long-term preservation of their innovation capacity via special resources and routines, multi-generational FF are of special interest in terms of learning from good practices. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to ascertain principles for successful innovation behavior in long-term successful FF and to contribute to bridging the theory-practice gap.
Results are generated by analyzing innovation and innovation processes in five cases of long-term successful FF. On the basis of these good practice cases, the “rules of the game” of innovating are re-constructed using fine and system analyses based on narrative interviews with the FF CEOs.
Intense reflection on the innovation characteristics of the five good practice cases along with a critical examination of the literature on innovation in FF were used to derive practical suggestions for FF in the form of 11 principles for FF taking a proactive interest in innovation.
The 11 generated principles of successfully innovative FF were validated by FF CEOs who confirmed the practical relevance of these principles as valuable guidelines for successful innovation. Owners and managers may reflect on these principles against the background of the innovation behavior of their firms and adapt them to their contextual conditions.
These principles serve as tangible suggestions for developing adequate innovation management strategies for individual FF. Furthermore, two FF CEOs were invited to comment on the viability of principles based on their comprehensive practical experience.
One of the central requirements of research is that the knowledge acquired should not only be academically rigorous, but also socially useful. If an article fails to…
One of the central requirements of research is that the knowledge acquired should not only be academically rigorous, but also socially useful. If an article fails to address practical relevance, the audience will question its value and respond with “so what?”. Due to recent criticism regarding the practical relevance of innovation research, the purpose of this paper is to examine whether a similar “ivory divide” prevails in research on innovation in family businesses. More specifically, this paper investigates to what extent and at what depth researchers generate practical implications for innovation in family businesses. Furthermore, different strategies to bridge the “ivory divide” are discussed.
This literature review systematically analyses the findings of 50 journal articles focusing on innovation in family businesses published between 2004 and 2015. Based on this, the articles are classified according to their degree of practical relevance.
Although the findings unanimously show the relevance of innovation for strengthening business’s performance, only a minority of articles offer in-depth implications for practitioners in terms of practical guidance for action and application-oriented recommendations. A number of reasons for the development of this “ivory divide” are discussed and suggestions for how the connection between research and practice could be strengthened are provided.
This paper attempts to provide an impulse toward more practically oriented family business research in order to increase its interestingness to academics and its value to practitioners.