Innovation in Small Family Businesses

Innovation in Small Family Businesses

Sylvie Laforet

Innovation in Small Family Businesses explores how innovation is developed and carried out in small family-owned businesses, the factors underpinning it, and the innovation drivers and barriers in these firms’ context. Sylvie Laforet also offers suggestions on how innovation can be fostered and perhaps, sustained in small family-owned businesses and discusses the government’s role in this. The book makes an important contribution to the theoretical development of family firms’ and small businesses’ innovation.

Chapter 4: Process of innovation in small family businesses

Sylvie Laforet

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, family business, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, organisational innovation


This chapter focuses on conceptualizing organizational process of innovation in small family firms, based on data obtained from the survey of SFF conducted for the purpose of this research book, as described in previous chapters. For the first time in academic literature on small firm innovation, this book examines the process of innovation in SFF as a whole, and the organizational factors underpinning this process rather than focusing on any single aspect such as culture, climate or organizational structure, as mentioned in past research. This perspective has an advantage, in that it can overcome the issue of reductionism (Pullen et al., 2009). The chapter starts with a literature review and discusses models that centre on the individual innovation process in large organizations and SMEs, and highlighting their weaknesses. At the core of this chapter, Miller and Le Breton-Miller’s (2005) 4C’s framework is examined. It is based on stewardship theory, which puts emphasis on family firms’ priorities – continuity, community, connect and command. What family firms prioritize can have an effect on their culture and way of doing things, and the process they use to innovate, as well as the internal factors that influence that process.

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