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 9: The F-PEC Scale of Family Influence: A Proposal for Solving the Family Business Definition Problem

Joseph H. Astrachan, Sabine B. Klein and Kosmas X. Smyrnios


9 The F-PEC scale of family influence: a proposal for solving the family business definition problem1 Joseph H. Astrachan, Sabine B. Klein and Kosmas X. Smyrnios2 The definition problem in family business research Although in 1989, Handler said that ‘defining the family firm is the first and most obvious challenge facing family business researchers’ (p. 258), more then 10 years later, the challenge remains. To date, there is ‘no widely accepted definition of a family business’ (Littunen and Hyrsky, 2000, p. 41). Instead, various definitions are reported in the literature. An analysis of the literature suggests three principal ways in which to consider the plethora of definitions: content, purpose, and form. Most definitions and classifications focus on content (for example, Handler, 1989; Heck and Scannell Trent, 1999; Litz, 1995). However, definitions cited earlier in the literature mostly concern ownership (for example, Berry, 1975; Lansberg et al., 1988), ownership and management involvement of an owning family (Barnes and Hershon, 1976; Burch, 1972), and generational transfer (Ward, 1987). In contrast, more recent definitions concentrate on family business culture (Dreux IV and Brown, 1999; Litz, 1995). A definition of family business can either serve a distinct research purpose (for example, Dean, 1992) or assist in differentiating family from nonfamily firms (Klein, 2000a). Moreover, definitions can be employed for structural purposes, such as subdividing a sample into various categories (Daily and Thompson, 1994). Definitions can also be employed for...

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