IFERA 2023 proved to be a remarkable event in the year, surpassing all expectations. Jagiellonian University served as the gracious host, creating an engaging academic atmosphere complemented by the beautiful city of Krakow. The conference featured a rich and diverse program, including Doctoral Consortium, PDW, parallel sessions, and thought-provoking keynote speeches by Arist von Schlippe, Nora Bateson, and Zbigniew Inglot.
Besides the intellectually stimulating sessions, the conference also provided ample networking opportunities, fostering connections among participants. The social program, specially designed for this purpose, culminated in an unforgettable Gala Dinner in an old tram deposit, leaving attendees speechless with its grandeur and significance.
During the Gala Dinner, the Award Ceremony took place. Thanks to the invaluable input and expertise of our distinguished juries, six prestigious awards have been allocated:
The Best Conference Paper Award sponsored by CeFeo has been awarded to Paolo Capolupo, Lorenzo Ardito, Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli, Nadine Kammerlander, Alfredo De Massis and their study entitled “Next Generations and Family CEO as drivers of Digital Innovation in Family Firms: Does the TMT-size also matter?”. The abstract is as follows:
Digital innovations are crucial for firms operating in traditional industrial-age industries to survive. However, achieving digital innovations is still a relevant managerial challenge for all firms, including family firms. Based on a longitudinal sample of 364 family and non-family firms from the automotive and industrial engineering industries, observed from 2013 to 2020, we reveal that family firms show better digital innovation performances than non-family firms. We then account for heterogeneity among family firms and, drawing from construal level theory, we propose and find that family firms controlled by later generations show higher digital innovation performances, whereas the presence of a family CEO harms these performances. The positive relationship between later generations and digital innovation performances is negatively moderated by a larger TMT. Our study holds important implications for family owner-managers interested in achieving digital innovations and is the first empirical study adopting construal level theory in the family business literature.
The “WIFU Foundation” Best Paper Contribution to Practice featured not just one but three awards. The 3rd place went to Jana Hermle-Boersig and Matthias Waldkirch with the work entitled “All that glitters is not gold—Reconceptualizing family firm professionalization”. The 2nd place has been awarded to Barbara Maggi, Rafaela Gjergji, Salvatore Sciascia, Luigi Vena and Alessandro Cortesi and their paper entitled “Environmental performance disclosure, family firm status and board gender diversity”. And the first prize went to Raphaëlle Mattart, Claudia Astrachan and Fabrice Pirnay with their paper “Constitutions as Expressions of Family Heterogeneity: Disentangling Motivations and Process”. The abstract is as follows:
Theory and practice depict professionalization as a key challenge for family firms. Despite the importance of this concept, it is surprising that findings surrounding family firm professionalization are scattered and contradictory. We argue that these pitfalls stem from the lack of theoretical foundation of the concept and from the implicit assumption of professionalization as a natural transformation. Our manuscript builds on institutional theory and research on institutional pressures to reconceptualize professionalization in family firms and provide a cohesive theoretical framework. We theorize four types of professionalization building a typology and argue under which conditions (non-)professionalization is beneficial for family firms. Consequently, our theorizing contributes to family firm professionalization research by drawing attention to the concepts of legitimacy and decoupling, thus highlighting that family firms, under certain conditions, might profit from non-professionalization and suffer from professionalization.
The IFERA Best Paper on Conference Theme prize has been assigned to Clemens Krüger, Laura Bechthold and Reinhard Prügl for their paper “The Microfoundations of the Innovation-Tradition-Paradox in Family Firms”. The abstract is as follows:
Family entrepreneurs are prone to paradoxical tensions due to the interconnectedness of the family and the firm. Despite their relevance in entrepreneurial practice, current research lacks methods to examine both microfoundations of and individual behavior in the management of paradoxes. We introduce the application of serious games as a method capable of simulating context-rich paradoxes in an immersive environment to analyze entrepreneurial decision-making. Therefore, we developed a serious game that simulates decision-making behavior in family firms regarding the innovation-tradition-paradox. We quantitatively analyze the behavior of 199 players and explore the relationship between player behavior and variables reflecting microfoundations of entrepreneurial decision-making. Our results indicate a positive relationship between a paradoxical mindset and socioemotional wealth and the choice for an ambidextrous firm strategy. With this study, we demonstrate the potential of serious games as a method for advancing (family) entrepreneurship research and behavioral management theories.
The “CYFE” Best Entrepreneurship in Family Business Paper was awarded to Massimo Baù, Jasper Brinkerink, Alfredo De Massis, Johan Karlsson and Philipp Sieger for their paper entitled “Signaling Entrepreneurial Commitment and Competence in Family Business Succession”. The abstract is as follows:
Entrepreneurial parents aspiring to transfer their business to one of their children face information asymmetries regarding the entrepreneurial commitment and competence of each of their offspring, complicating identification of the most suitable successor. We posit that offspring’s independent entrepreneurial experience and performance serve as costly and hard-to-imitate signals of their entrepreneurial commitment and competence, respectively, mitigating these information asymmetries. Accordingly, we assess the signaling value of entrepreneurship in a large sample of Swedish intra-family successions. In line with our predictions, we find that offspring’s independent entrepreneurial experience positively affects the likelihood of becoming a successor in their parents’ business, and that this effect is stronger at higher levels of parental firm performance. Partly contradicting our curvilinear hypothesis, however, we find a distinctly negative effect of offspring’s independent entrepreneurial performance on the likelihood of becoming a successor. We thereby contribute to literature on entrepreneurial careers, succession, entrepreneurial families, and signaling theory.
The IFERA Best PhD Research Proposal Award, has been assigned to Andrea Gerlitz with the work entitled “All or nothing. How large family firms respond to exogenous shocks over time. A qualitative longitudinal study of 9 large family firms.” The abstract is as follows:
Exogenous shocks represent economic and strategic discontinuity for family firms. Long-term strategies like environmental sustainability strategies may be reassessed. Family firms, as the predominant organization, have a significant impact on the achievement of sustainable development goals. It is unclear how family firms respond to exogenous shocks regarding their environmental sustainability strategy and why they choose their individual strategic response. This paper addresses this gap by drawing on the insights of 90 in-depth interviews with C-level management and owning families of nine large family firms from the polluting industry. Additional 6 focus groups with other family firms and secondary data ensure trustworthiness. By employing the concept of dynamic capabilities, we look into patterns strategic decision-making. Results of the within- and cross-case analyses show that contrary to common expectations, the current crises have not disrupted but reassured strategies. Propositions guide future research.
All of this would not be possible without the effort, time and dedication of all IFERA reviewers. An outstanding recognition goes to the “IFERA” Best Reviewer Award to Hermann Frank, Antonio Durendez, Jonathan Bauweraerts and Ine Umans for their extraordinarily detailed and insightful reviews.
One more year, the Award Ceremony served as a shining tribute to the advancements and developments within the ever-growing field of family business. The enthusiastic response from the audience and the warm atmosphere of the ceremony underscored the existence of a close and supportive community. Scholars and practitioners demonstrated unity in their commitment to face the future together, embracing new challenges with determination.