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Boers Börje and Mattias Nordqvist

The objective of this chapter is to deepen our understanding of the nature of family businesses by analysing them as hybrid organisations. We define family businesses as businesses where one or several families own the controlling majority of the shares and are actively involved in the business (Chrisman et al., 2005; Chua et al., 1999). The focus of the chapter is on the theoretical notion of family businesses as hybrid organisations, and it draws on case research based on two publicly listed family firms. Publicly listed family firms are common around the world (La Porta et al., 1999) and they illustrate explicitly the hybrid character of family businesses by combining the logic of family ownership with the expectation of delivering shareholder value (Boers and Nordqvist, 2012). We argue that hybridity is especially apparent in publicly listed family businesses, where it arises from different underlying institutional logics related to the family and the market and the private and the public. The hybrid nature of this kind of business has an impact on their decision-making, their control and/or their governance more generally. To analyse the two cases, we draw on literature on hybrid organisations, governance and family firms. The study of hybrid organisations has gained momentum in recent years (see, e.g., Battilana and Dorado, 2010; Battilana and Lee, 2014; Billis, 2010; Pache and Santos, 2013; and also this Handbook). The current focus seems to be on social enterprises as typical examples of hybrid organisations (Battilana and Lee, 2014; Doherty et al., 2014). Yet this phenomenon is not exclusive to social enterprises or the third sector: it is equally relevant for some public sector and for-profit organisations. The most common type of business is the family business (Dyer, 2003), which also represents a hybrid organisation, with the two domains of family and business constituting the source of hybridity. Family businesses have been portrayed as hybrid organisations in previous literature (e.g., Arregle et al., 2007; Boers and Nordqvist, 2012; Ljungkvist and Boers, 2017), but the concept of hybridity has not gained as much research attention as it deserves. The purpose of this chapter is to address this limitation.