2014 IFERA Global Conference at Vienna, Austria

Involvement, Essence and Identity: Developing Core Constructs in Family Business Research


Hermann Frank, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business 


WU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Welthandelsplatz 1, A-1020 Vienna, Austria

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.

Topical Focus

The family in relation to a business is undeniably a vital dimension of a family business setting in comparison to other businesses. This relation is challenging to explore, especially if it is not clear – and in fact to date it is not – how the family system relates to the business system and how this relationship can be captured best from definitional and conceptual perspectives.

Whereas the involvement of a family in the business can be defined, in part, by examining ownership distribution or the number of family members active in the business, the actual influence of the family is much more puzzling to observe and measure, especially from a single disciplinary perspective. For example, an analysis of how and why a certain influence is executed and then subsequently related to specific outcomes and changes over time holds promise towards building a family business theory. Thus, this essence approach in focusing on the family system and its influence on the business highlights family aspirations and the actual involvement of the family at the center of the analysis and potentially begins to capture the nature of family business behavior. The recognition of organizational identity as a complementary extension to the involvement and essence approaches furthermore enables the family’s perception of the business to be captured. Accordingly, an organizational identity as a family business is posited to have a positive effect on internal and external stakeholders and contributes to a competitive advantage.

With this topic for the RDW, we target the in-depth discussion of original research papers focusing on different conceptual and empirical approaches to assessing the involvement of the family in the business, the essence of family influence and the identity of family businesses from various theoretical perspectives. Furthermore, we welcome multi-disciplinary approaches to further develop the research field. This RDW focuses not only on the development of family influence-related concepts and constructs but also wants to give researchers the possibility to exchange new ideas and build academic alliances.

RDW Format

We target a number of 6-8 research papers, in which the Workshop topics are explicitly and clearly addressed. We warmly welcome co-authors as participants of this RDW too! Further, we welcome requests from 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 Austrian 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 https://www.softconf.com/e/ifera2014will be available for submissions starting April 14, 2014. The online submission deadline is May 16, 2014, 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 July 3, 2014. 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 will also be eligible for Annual Conference Best Paper considerations by the relevant jury. 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 2015 Conference.