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Giorgia Maria D’Allura

Family businesses constitute the bedrock of entrepreneurship in most national economies, contributing to the production of gross domestic product, job creation and the livelihood of society. Therefore, while family businesses are subject to institutional influence, they also play an active role in shaping its characteristics. The aim of this chapter is to present the current state of family business studies in an institutional approach and to see how this perspective can be helpful to advancing the understanding of family business. Specifically, the chapter is an introduction to the entire book, and sheds light on the dynamic relationships of the family business context. It then provides a theoretical and interpretative framework for future in-depth study. It is deemed that this aspect is of crucial importance, especially for family business scholars. However, a multidisciplinary perspective involving jurists, economists, business historians and sociologists could help explore the topic. Therefore, it aims to be a platform for future multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

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Giorgia Maria D’Allura and Mariasole Bannò

Family firms are complex organizations owing to the co-existence of two institutions: the family and the firm. The family delivers to those organizations high levels of interpersonal dynamics that are embedded in the family supra-system and that shape the second institution (the firm) in terms of nonfinancial value not typically found in nonfamily businesses. The study of family business through the lens of institutional theory highlights three levels of analysis: the family, the firm and the actor(s) in the institutional context. These three levels call for progress at the theoretical and methodological level. In this chapter, the focus is on the mixed methods approach for family firm and institutions research. The idea is that mixed methods research, using both qualitative and quantitative perspectives in the same study, provides additional understanding and generalizability for the topic under study and helps to solve the complexities arising from the interaction of the three levels of analysis identified above.

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Giorgia Maria D’Allura, Andrea Colli and Sanjay Goel

Family firms represent over 90 percent of businesses around the world and often play a more significant role in the economies of nations. The impact of the family on organizational behavior and firm performance is the factor that makes the difference between family and non-family firms. To illustrate how the family as a variable can be used to generate theory in a broad explanatory sense, we need to investigate both micro- and macro-levels of organizations. At a micro-level, family firms’ heterogeneity may be explained in terms of how the family behaves and intervenes in the business. At a macro-level, a possible explanation of such diversity is the institutional context, that is the general framework that influences firms’ behavior and strategy along the dimensions of culture, innovation propensity, law, governance rules, economic and financial constraints, and so on. Indeed, the family as a social unit can be considered another dimension of the institutional context. The book contributes in all these directions through theoretical and empirical chapters from different institutional contexts.

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Mariasole Bannò, Giorgia Maria D’Allura, Celeste Amorim Varum and Sandro Trento

Innovation is a key driver of firms’ international growth, which in turn positively influences innovation activities and then firms’ performance. Many authors have tried to identify and explain the relationship between innovation and internationalization at the firm level. To date, few empirical studies have investigated it at a regional level. Moreover, the literature has focused only on one direction of causality, while scant attention has been paid to empirically inspecting innovation and internationalization together. This chapter provides a review of the literature on the mutual connection of these two strategic choices, taking into account the potential role of family firms in disentangling such a relationship.