Call for papers

Program Chair: María Concepción López-Fernández, University of Cantabria

Program Co-chairs: Unai Arzubiaga, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and José C. Casillas, University of Seville 

Conference Theme: 

Family Business: A Model for the New World? 

Questions concerning the role of family businesses in economy and society have always been central in family business research (e.g., Astrachan & Shanker, 2003; Bertrand & Schoar, 2006; Carney, Duran, Van Essen, & Shapiro, 2017; Chang, Chrisman, Chua, & Kellermanns, 2008; Dyer & Whetten, 2006; Memili, Fang, Chrisman, & De Massis, 2015). The global crisis we are experiencing today calls for renewed scholarly attention to those questions (Amore, Pelucco, & Quarato, 2020; De Massis & Rondi, 2020; Kraus et al., 2020). It offers a new opportunity to reaffirm the critical role that family business play in shaping the fate of territories and countries in which they are embedded, and to demonstrate how rigorous and useful knowledge can help family firms survive and thrive, generating positive impacts that benefit society at large (Pieper, 2020).

In this “new world”, a critical reflection on how family firms are, can, and will be active agents of change is both necessary and interesting. It is necessary because family firms have historically played a leading role in the global business landscape, in terms of contribution to GDP growth and employment, which makes them a critical element for any sustainable economy and society. Moreover, family firms embody unique characteristics and behavioral tendencies, such as long-standing values, socio-emotional goals, generational altruism and long-term orientation, among others, which can be valuable components of a healthy and sustainable economy, as well as of an inclusive and caring society.

To explore these important and broad issues, the IFERA 2021 conference theme “Family business: A model for the new world?” particularly encourages rigorous and relevant submissions that advance our understanding of family firms and their role in world economies and societies. Possible research questions that align with the conference theme include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • What role do family firms play across contemporary economies and societies, and how will that change in the “new world” that lays ahead? When, where, and under which circumstances are family firms a force of positive change and impact in the world? Which dynamics of change, innovation and regeneration capabilities can help family firms adapt their strategies and structures to effectively prepare for and cope with crises? Which are the mechanisms through which family firms can leverage the new context for organizational renewal? How can family firms maintain and reinforce their positioning and image in the eyes of institutions, employees, customers and other stakeholders?
  • How do family firms respond to global shocks? Are there significant differences across regions and economies? And how do family firms navigate the challenges and opportunitiesof an increasingly connected, yet physically distanced world? What is the role of family values? Which are the mechanisms through which the family may help address this challenge? How do family businesses respond to crises from both a strategic and an entrepreneurial point of view? How can we assess the impact of crises on family businesses and enterprising families, internally and externally? How do non-financial goals and stakeholder connections work out during and after crises (see, e.g., IFERA, 2020)?
  • What is the role of enterprising families in building organizational resilience and recovering from global crises? How do families shape the economy and society at large? How are they affected by crises, and which family-specific mechanisms and practices help ameliorate those effects?
  • Which are the main (successful) strategies that help family businesses preserve family business-based intangibles (e.g., identity, culture, values)? How can immediate decisions (during the shock) about human, social, and relational capital impact in the new era (long-term)? How the shock is affecting intra- and inter-generational dynamics? How can we help family business to face the challenges they are facing?

In addition to the conference theme, IFERA more broadly welcomes submissions on all topics that are relevant to family business theory and practice, that help bridge gaps or apparent contradictions in family business research, and advance our collective understanding of family firms, their behaviors and results. Some pressing questions include, for example:

(1) How to preserve identity and family values at the same time when family firms need to renew themselves, innovate and regenerate their capabilities;

(2) How to preserve attachment to local communities while adopting a global mindset and reaching an international scope;

(3) How to reconcile short-term competitiveness and long-term survival.

With this conference we also aim at bridging gaps between (a) theoretical orientations and practical implications; (b) different theoretical perspectives and disciplines; (c) different and new methodological approaches; (d) different units of analysis (as the individuals, the family, the firm, etc.), among others.

Finally, papers on all aspects of family business research, including but not limited to succession, leadership, governance, entrepreneurship, innovation, strategy, marketing, organizational behavior, sociology, family psychology, history, economics, finance and accounting, as well as topics that lie at the intersection of these and other interrelated disciplines are welcome. 

Key Dates and Deadlines:

  • All paper submissions due: February 1st, 2021
  • Applications for Doctoral Consortium, PDWs and Summer School: March 1st, 2021
  • Notification of acceptance for all submissions: March 22nd, 2021
  • Registration deadline for paper authors: 19th April 2021

Submission types:

IFERA 2021 welcomes a varied and wide range of submissions to create a vibrant conference environment among family business scholars. Submission types include:

  • Full Paper (FP)
  • Work in Progress (WIP)
  • Teaching Case Study (TCS) 

Keynote speakers:

  • Dr. Sharon V. Álvarez, University of Pittsburgh (USA)
  • Dr. Franz W. Kellermanns, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (USA)
  • Dr. Kimberly Wade-Benzoni, Duke University (USA)
  • Panel of leading European family business leaders.


  • A unique Research Development Program featuring the IFERA Doctoral Consortium, the Paper Development Workshop involving leading journal editors, and the IFERA Summer School – to learn more, check
  • Dedicated sessions for special issues in progress and opportunities to meet the Editors of leading journals in the field.
  • A dedicated stream of sessions featuring opportunities for engagement with international and national family business leaders, in touch with the lively entrepreneurial community of Santander and Spain.
  • Conference awards sponsored by leading institutions and organizations in the field of family business, celebrating the best achievements and contributions to the field of family business research


Amore, M. D., Pelucco, V., & Quarato, F. 2020. Family Ownership During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Astrachan, J. H., & Shanker, M. C. 2003. Family businesses' contribution to the US economy: A closer look. Family Business Review, 16(3): 211-219.

Bertrand, M., & Schoar, A. 2006. The role of family in family firms. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2): 73-96.

Carney, M., Duran, P., Van Essen, M., & Shapiro, D. 2017. Family firms, internationalization, and national competitiveness: Does family firm prevalence matter? Journal of Family Business Strategy, 8(3): 123-136.

Chang, E. P., Chrisman, J. J., Chua, J. H., & Kellermanns, F. W. 2008. Regional economy as a determinant of the prevalence of family firms in the United States: A preliminary report. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 32(3): 559-573.

De Massis, A., & Rondi, E. 2020. COVID‐19 and the future of family business research. Journal of Management Studies, in press.

Dyer, W. G., & Whetten, D. A. 2006. Family firms and social responsibility: Preliminary evidence from the S&P 500. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 30(6): 785-802.

Kraus, S., Clauss, T., Breier, M., Gast, J., Zardini, A., & Tiberius, V. 2020. The economics of COVID-19: initial empirical evidence on how family firms in five European countries cope with the corona crisis. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.

Memili, E., Fang, H., Chrisman, J. J., & De Massis, A. 2015. The impact of small-and medium-sized family firms on economic growth. Small Business Economics, 45(4): 771-785.

Pieper, T. M. 2020. Editor’s note:“family business scholars, lead the charge!”. Journal of Family Business Strategy.