2017 IFERA Global Conference at Free University of Bolzano, Italy

Balancing Tradition and Change: Theorizing on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Family firm


Nadine Kammerlander 

ifb@WHU, WHU—Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany

Kurt Matzler 

Free University of Bolzano, Italy

Alfredo De Massis 

Free University of Bolzano, Italy and Lancaster University, UK

Reinhard Prügl 

FIF, Zeppelin University, Germany

Facilitator bios:

Dries Faems is full professor of innovation and organization at the University of Groningen. He serves as Editor of JMS and on the Editorial Board of AMJ. His research expertise is in innovation, alliances, and IP rights. His research has been published amongst others in AMJ, JMS, ResPol, Organization Studies, and JPIM. More information: http://www.rug.nl/staff/d.l.m.faems/

Franz Kellermanns is chaired professor at UNC Charlotte and holds a position at the ifb@WHU, WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany. He serves as Editor of ETP and was former associate editor of FBR. His research has been published amongst others in Organization Science, JOM, JMS, JBV, and ETP. One of his research expertise is entrepreneurship in family firms. More information: http://belkcollege.uncc.edu/directory/franz-w-kellermanns

Call for papers 

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 firm innovation and entrepreneurial behavior over generations has attracted increasing scholarly attention over the last years, reflected in a growing number of journal articles and conference papers as well as special issues dedicated to this topic.

Constant renewal of the firm, and thus (corporate) entrepreneurship and innovation, is crucial for long term success of any firm in any industry. While innovation and management literature has revealed a large number of important enablers of and barriers to innovation, many of those findings are not directly transferrable to family businesses. Indeed, prior research has shown that family firms consistently underinvest into R&D and that they experience particular challenges when, for instance, faced with discontinuous innovations. At the same time, researchers have shown that some family firms are extraordinary innovators and highly entrepreneurial actors, with important competitive advantages. Researchers have thus far applied a variety of theories such as behavioral agency model, attention based view, agency theory, and resource based view in order to explain variance in innovation and (corporate) entrepreneurship among family firms as well as differences between family and non-family firms. However, despite those advances, family firm innovation and entrepreneurship research is still in its infancy given that many aspects declared as important by innovation, entrepreneurship and management scholars have not been included into family firm research yet.

Research questions like the following (and related ones) still need attention:

- How do family dynamics influence innovation and entrepreneurial behavior of family firms?

- How can family firms foster an efficient innovation/entrepreneurial process?

- How do family firms deal with different types of innovation (product/service, process, business model, and management innovation)?

- How does the stage of the family and/or firm life cycle affect innovation and entrepreneurship in family firms?

- How can we "teach" innovation and (corporate) entrepreneurship to family firms?

- What can non-family firms learn from the idiosyncratic behavior of family firms regarding innovation and (corporate) entrepreneurship?

- How do family firms balance "tradition" and "innovation"?

- Why are some family firms able to maintain their innovation propensity and entrepreneurial behavior over generations while others are not?

- How do family firms balance exploration and exploitation?

- Which role does the family play in laying the grounds for innovation and (corporate) entrepreneurship over generations?

- Why and how does the founder imprint the organizational culture for entrepreneurial behavior over generations?

- Which theoretical and methodical lenses could help us to further understand the “tradition and innovation” paradox?

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 innovation behavior of family firms from various theoretical perspectives. Furthermore, we welcome multi-disciplinary approaches to further develop the research field. This RDW focuses not only on empirical findings on family firm innovation, entrepreneurial behavior, and theoretical reasons thereof, but also wants to give researchers the possibility to exchange new ideas and build academic alliances.

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 2017 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/f/ifera2016 will be available for submissions starting November 1, 2016. The online submission deadline for abstracts is November 25, 2016. Acceptance notifications based on the abstracts will be communicated on December 15, 2016 at latest.

Authors who wish to submit full papers should send their full papers until January 23, 2017, 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 February 13, 2017. 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 2017 Annual conference by March 15, 2017..  They will be scheduled directly in the Annual Conference program without going through the conference review process.