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Family orientation in family firms: a model and some empirical evidence

Family orientation in family firms: a model and some empirical evidence Attention has been drawn recently to the differences which exist between family and non‐family firms, but Ward indicates that there are different types of family firms. More specifically, as Dunn puts it, “in some families it is evident that the business serves the family, as opposed to the family serves the business”. For some families in business, economic rationality dominates decision making, yet for others a “family first” ethos is to the fore, while a third group recognises the need to respond to economic and family considerations. In this paper firms which pay attention to both family and business are not investigated. However, Ward’s model of the characteristics of family firms is discussed and data based on a Scottish and Irish sample of 234 firms which put family first when business and family objectives clash, and 830 firms which focus on business objectives, are presented. Results suggest that the former exhibit several of the characteristics defined by Ward. This suggests that a considerable number of family firms may be lifestyle – as opposed to growth‐oriented businesses. These results have major implications for policy makers. If a substantial number of family firms differ from rational economic ventures by their methods of operation, then policy makers should be flexible with regard to the methods of intervention required to support this important section of the SME community. Policy issues in connection with family firms in Britain are considered in the light of our findings. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Emerald Publishing

Family orientation in family firms: a model and some empirical evidence

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 MCB UP Ltd. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1462-6004
DOI
10.1108/EUM0000000006668
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Attention has been drawn recently to the differences which exist between family and non‐family firms, but Ward indicates that there are different types of family firms. More specifically, as Dunn puts it, “in some families it is evident that the business serves the family, as opposed to the family serves the business”. For some families in business, economic rationality dominates decision making, yet for others a “family first” ethos is to the fore, while a third group recognises the need to respond to economic and family considerations. In this paper firms which pay attention to both family and business are not investigated. However, Ward’s model of the characteristics of family firms is discussed and data based on a Scottish and Irish sample of 234 firms which put family first when business and family objectives clash, and 830 firms which focus on business objectives, are presented. Results suggest that the former exhibit several of the characteristics defined by Ward. This suggests that a considerable number of family firms may be lifestyle – as opposed to growth‐oriented businesses. These results have major implications for policy makers. If a substantial number of family firms differ from rational economic ventures by their methods of operation, then policy makers should be flexible with regard to the methods of intervention required to support this important section of the SME community. Policy issues in connection with family firms in Britain are considered in the light of our findings.

Journal

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise DevelopmentEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 1, 1999

Keywords: Family firms; Business policy; Company philosophy

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