Handbook of Research on Family Business
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Handbook of Research on Family Business

Edited by Panikklos Zata Poutziouris, Kosmas X. Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein

The Handbook of Research on Family Business provides a comprehensive first port of call for those wishing to survey progress in the theory and practice of family business research. In response to the extensive growth of family business as a topic of academic inquiry, the principal objective of the Handbook is to provide an authoritative and scholarly overview of current thinking in this multidisciplinary field.
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Chapter 4: A Unified Systems Perspective of Family Firm Performance

Timothy G. Habbershon, Mary Williams and Ian C. MacMillan


4 A unified systems perspective of family firm performance Timothy G. Habbershon, Mary Williams and Ian C. MacMillan 1 Introduction Achieving strategic competitiveness is difficult in today’s turbulent and complex market place. These difficulties are compounded when firms do not have a clear understanding of what affects their performance. Recognizing the antecedents to firm performance allows leaders to exploit their organizational resources and capabilities and to make the requisite strategic choices to pursue future opportunities. The heart of the strategic management process is to achieve the performance outcomes that allow firms, including family-influenced firms, to be competitive over time. To date, the family firm literature has generally emphasized improving family relationships without a strong strategic management focus on firm performance (Sharma et al., 1997). Anecdotal descriptions of organizational behavior are often substituted as strategy models, and attempts to define a family firm or to delineate between the performance requirements of so-called family firms and nonfamily firms have left family and business leaders confused at best (Chua et al., 1999; Gudmundson et al., 1999). More often, the response is to discount, ignore, or isolate the family factors from the business and resort to traditional strategy models for the business. The end result is that these leaders fail to account for major systemic influences that impact their performance outcomes. In short, they do not have an adequate performance model. Theory and practice indicate that in family-influenced firms, there are complex arrays of systemic factors...

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