2013 IFERA Global Conference at Springfield, Illinois

Expanding Family Constructs: Representing and Measuring Family in Family Business Research


Ranjan Karri, University of Illinois Springfield

Torsten Pieper, Kennesaw State University

Ramona Zachary, Baruch College, City University of New York

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Tim Liao, UIUC


Springfield, Illinois

October 10, 11 and 12, 2013

Submissions now closed

Topical Focus

Family business research is firmly based on the reality that businesses and families are inextricably interconnected.  This implies that family businesses are best viewed, studied, and understood from the perspective of how they interrelate with (i.e. create, sustain, and explain) one another over time.  The family firm is deeply rooted in its owning family and its family dynamics and life course as well as its business dimension and activities which are often the manifestations of the underlying family.  Family business research could thus immensely benefit from a serious and expansive use of family constructs in family business models. 

Due to the historical trajectory of development of the family business field, some family business researchers may be trained in disciplines that are relatively unfamiliar with the rich variety of family constructs/variables that can represent and measure the family dimension.  Business scholars have made more extensive use of the cadre of constructs predominantly derived from the business field, such as management, strategy, and performance.  The impact of family on these business dimensions and outcomes is modeled in rather superficial terms, and does not take into account the extant variety and depth of family constructs.  Nonetheless, family firms span both the family and the business systems.  We, as family business scholars, can embrace other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, and others who study families in detail.  These varied perspectives can offer great insights toward a greater understanding of how and when to represent family constructs in our conceptual and empirical models and analyses.  For example, the understanding of family firm performance could benefit greatly if it is modeled to include both business and family outcome measures, simultaneously.    

The Inaugural IFERA Research Development Workshop (RDW) will expose attendees to the latest research involving family constructs and measures in current research in family business as well as disciplines that study families in particular. The goal/focus is to assist researchers in challenging and reconsidering their extant models by expanding their knowledge of family constructs and measures.  This Inaugural RDW will draw on two disciplines – sociology and psychology - with established research on families and with rather standard and well-accepted measures for a variety of family constructs.  The focus would be on the basic concepts and constructs that researchers from these disciplines use in the study of families such as roles, structures, family types, communication types, as examples.  We will encourage interactions with and among the audience of family business scholars that can lead to fresh insights on how to enhance family business research, especially by a more definitive and comprehensive representation of the family dimension in relation to the business.  This exercise will build modestly toward a more robust modeling and theory development for our future research.  This RDW program will aim to experientially demonstrate how to improve our research by incorporating family constructs into research questions, chosen frameworks, design/methodology/analysis, and implications.  Speakers and attendees will be guided interactively and creatively to develop strategies to encompass family constructs and measures in their own research.  

Based on the output of the inaugural RDW, we will plan additional RDWs in different parts of the world, and develop outlets to disseminate knowledge emanating from these RDWs – including IFERA events, and Special Issues in our partner journal, Journal of Family Business Strategy.

RDW Format

Selection of papers – 2 papers invited, 8 selected (blind review).

Maximum number of papers – 8 regular (including invited), 2 doctoral.

Number of days – 2.

Total number of attendees – 30-50.  We will not be able to accept more than 50 attendees due to logistical reasons.


1. The registration fee for the RDW is $325.

2. All registered attendees of the RDW will receive a discount of $100 that can applied towards the registration fee for the 2014 IFERA Annual Conference to be held in Finland (June 24-27, 2014).

3. A session of 3 -- best papers from the workshop will be featured in the Annual Conference, and will also be eligible for Conference Best Paper considerations.  Other papers will be assigned to full paper or discussion paper session, as appropriate.  Authors might wish to revise their papers based on their gained knowledge at the RDW and before the paper submission deadline for the Finland 2014 Conference.

4. We will showcase abstracts of the best papers on the Annual Conference website, as a guideline/benchmark to submitters of papers to the Annual Conference.