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Anna Carreri

The chapter aims to give an original contribution to the methodological debate in family business by focusing especially on a nascent and flourishing literature which explores family firms from an institutional theoretical perspective. It provides some suggestions that are useful to family business researchers who work from an institutional theoretical perspective when reflecting on why and how to use qualitative methods as well as to reviewers and editors when evaluating qualitative articles. The theoretical institutional perspective is indeed increasingly used by the interdisciplinary community of scholars who deal with family firms, and now it is possible to undertake a first methodological reflection. The chapter provides the reader with a detailed methodological review of the existing qualitative family business articles that employ institutional theory in three high-level journals in the field of entrepreneurship and small business management contributing regularly to the understanding of family business over a 20-year period. The goal is both to have a look at the current usage of qualitative inquiry in the sub-field and to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Finally, the chapter addresses key issues underlying the rigor of the qualitative research rationale, which contribute significantly to (neo-)institutional theory’s power (or the lack of it) to produce progress and new insights in scientific knowledge.