IFERA 2016 Research Development Workshop

Call for papers 

Family, Firms and Institutional Context:Analyzing the role of the context in the development of the family unit for Family Business Research

IFERA Research Development Workshops (RDWs) are intended to provide an umbrella for gathering of scholars on a specific topic. RDWs are intended to complement IFERA’s Annual Conferences. 


Family firms represent over 90 percent of businesses around the world and often play a more significant role in the economies of nations. Given that the family firm is the dominant organizational form in the world today, we question whether current management theory and practice can be generalized to this population of organizations. As family business scholars we know that the impact of the family into organizational behavior and firm performance is the factor that makes the difference between family and non-family firms. Thus, we need to include the family as a variable in our research. To illustrate how the family as a variable can be used to generate theory in a broad explanatory sense, we need to investigate both micro and macro levels of organizations. At a micro level, family firms heterogeneity may be explained in terms of how the family behaves and interferes with the business. At a macro level, a possible explanation of such diversity is the institutional context, that is the general framework that influences firms behavior and strategy along the dimensions of culture, innovation propensity, law, governance rules, economic and financial constraints, and so on. Indeed, the family as a social unit can be considered another dimension of the institutional context.

Thus, in our idea the first topic is the family as social unit that absorbs the national background in term of history, cultural issue, religion influence and law. Family as a social unit decides, behaves and pursues its social goals that is to generate and to nurture the new generations in the daily life. Furthermore, if the family is involved in a business this will turn inside the organization in terms of family dynamics, relations, and also goal, scope, commitment to the group and to the business. In the end, this will affect the business development and performance.

The second topic is the family as entrepreneur and owner as a result of a specific institutional context. Institutions embody collective actions that constrain, guide, and liberate individual action. In fact, institutional theory argues the processes by which structures, including schemes, rules, norms, and routines, become established as authoritative guidelines for social behavior. Moreover, it inquires into how these elements are created, diffused, adopted, and adapted over space and time, and how they fall into decline and disuse. Although the ostensible subject is stability and order in social life, students of institutions must perforce attend not just to consensus and conformity but to conflict and change in social structures. As a consequence, we believe that previous institutions force and guide the development of firms through the influence into the entrepreneurial development and the development of the rule about the ownership and the governance of the firms.

Proposing this topic for the RDW, we seek to open an in-depth discussion of original research papers focusing on different conceptual and empirical approaches to assess the role of institutional context into the family as social unit (how the family culture, tradition, religion, organization, innovation propensity influences the relations and dynamics of this group) and into the characteristics of the ownership based on regulations, norms and laws that are developed in a national institutional context. This topic should be developed adopting multi-disciplinary approaches (history, law, psychology and management) to further develop of the research field also adopting a cross-national perspective to analyze how the institutional context influences the family firms start and development. Furthermore, based on this multidisciplinary and cross national approach this RDW wants to give researchers the opportunity to exchange new ideas and build academic alliances.

Notwithstanding exhaustive, a possible list of research questions related to the RDW are:

  • Are family firms similar all over the world, independently from the institutional context?
  • Are national contexts relevant to explain the variance in family firms behavior and strategy?
  • What's the relationship between the institutional context and the propensity to innovate in family firms?
  • Is the succession more related to internal or external conditions, the latter associated with some specific characteristics of the institutional context?
  • How could the institutional context be studied in order to understand the family business succession? Using a corporate governance or an organizational approach, i.e. The Hosftede model?
  • Is the family as a social unit an important explanatory variable of the institutional context? How does it influence family firms heterogeneity?

RDW Format

Our goal is to select a number of 6-8 research papers in order to develop our understanding in the topic. The workshop will involve the authors of the paper and attendees in general, subject to the discretion of the Workshop Chair. The maximum number of Workshop participants is 30.

Selected submissions will be presented by their authors as original studies or elaborated works in progress to the Workshop group. After each presentation, two discussants, who have read the paper in advance, will give feedback. Finally, the respective papers are discussed in plenum by all workshop attendees. This Workshop will allow for the in-depth discussion of the work of participants and promisingly leads to synergies with colleagues working in a closely related field of research.

Additionally, we are pleased to welcome Workshop Facilitators, who hold introduction speeches to the workshop topic and attend the paper sessions to give feedback, as well as local family business owners who will provide workshop participants interesting insights into their companies.


1.The registration fee for the RDW is 300 EUR. 

2.All registered attendees of the RDW will receive a discount of 100 EUR that can be applied towards the registration fee for the 2015 IFERA Annual Conference.

3.All submissions and registration will be routed through IFERA’s online systems. Requests to attend this RDW without a paper submission should be made by submitting a brief 200 word abstract relative to the planned future research paper related to the workshop topic.

4.The submission website at (TBA) will be available for submissions starting September 1, 2015. The online submission deadline is November 10, 2015, midnight US EDT. This deadline is firm, that is, we will not be able to offer any extensions.

5.Types of submissions include: 1) full papers (30 pages maximum, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt) and 2) work-in-progress papers of at least 10 pages and 3) 200 word abstracts of planned future research papers.

6.Authors of chosen RDW submissions will be notified by December 1, 2015. Other authors of submissions may be invited to present their papers in an interactive poster session. The titles of all papers (presented in any format) will be listed in the program.

7. A session of 3 best papers from the workshop will be featured in the Annual Conference, and, if not submitted/accepted elsewhere (i.e. journal or another conference) will also be eligible for Annual Conference Best Paper considerations by the relevant jury.  Authors of the three best papers might wish to revise their papers based on their gained knowledge at the RDW, and should submit their papers for IFERA 2016 Annual conference by March 15, 2016.  They will be scheduled directly in the Annual Conference program without going through the conference review process.