8th EIASM Workshop on Family Firm Management Research

Jönköping, Sweden – May 31-June 2, 2012

The Family Business: a Beauty or a Beast?


Leif Melin, Anna Blombäck, Ethel Brundin, Francesco Chirico, Annika Hall, Jenny Helin and Mattias Nordqvist
CeFEO, Jönköping International Business School, Sweden

Keynote Speakers

Cristina Cruz
Instituto de Empresa Business School, Spain

Arist von Schlippe
Witten/Herdecke University, Germany

Call for papers

While having a rich and diverse history based in the practice, family business scholarship has been growing remarkably during recent years. A theme that has intrigued both practitioners and researchers throughout the history of the field is to what extent and under what circumstances the family business represents a “good” or a “bad” type of business organization. Is the family business a beauty? Or is it a beast? Early influential contributions to the family business history, such as Levinson (1971), as well as seminal work in business history (Chandler, 1977), depicted the family business as a beast. This view is also common in research on ‘family capitalism’ (e-g. Morck and Yeung, 2003). However, other more recent work drawing on e.g. the ‘familiness’ (Habbershon and Williams, 1999; Sirmon and Hitt, 2003) or the stewardship (Corbetta and Salvato, 2004; Miller and LeBreton-Miller, 2005) have focused mainly on the beauty of the family business. Interestingly, there is now a tendency in the literature to seek reconciliation between these two positions, or the duality of the family business as beautiful or ugly, e.g. under the concept of socio-emotional wealth (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2007; 2011) or the combination of a stewardship and stagnation perspective (Miller, LeBreton-Miller and Lester, 2010).

During the 8th EIASM Workshop on Family Firm Management we want to encourage scholars to address the family business as good or bad, as beautiful or ugly from new and creative perspectives. For instance, we seek contributions that can form the base for an emerging aesthetics perspective on the family business. Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with ideas and concepts related to ‘the beautiful’, ‘the ugly’, ‘the sublime’, ‘the comic’, the ‘sacred’, the ‘joyful’, the ‘graceful’ etc. Traditionally aesthetics has been applicable to the fine arts, literature, architecture and the like. But aesthetics has also gained terrain in the management and organizational theory literature (e.g. Linstead & Höpfl, 2000; Strati, 1992). We believe that an aesthetics perspective, whether based on the management discipline or theoretical and empirical resources from other disciplines may inspire our family business research community to think about the family business as a beauty or a beast in new and hopefully valuable ways.

We invite papers that address different aspects of the conference theme, including

  • how, why and when the family business is a good, or a bad type of business organization (including their financial and non-financial performance, and/or the implications of assumptions inherent in various theoretical perspectives),
  • how family businesses have been portrayed in published research and/or various media (e.g. by using a discourse lens),
  • how family businesses are portrayed in the arts, such as fiction literature, movies, bibliographies, plays etc., employee perspectives on family businesses, political and sociological perspectives on family firm management.

While submission of papers related to the main theme - the family business a beauty or a beast - are particularly encouraged, the workshop continues its tradition to accept papers relevant to any area of family firm management and which add value to the development of the family business research field.

Read more here.