Edited by Panikklos Zata Poutziouris, Kosmas X. Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein
Chapter 4: A Unified Systems Perspective of Family Firm Performance
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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