Exploring Growth and Performance in Family Firms Across Generations
Edited by Mattias Nordqvist and Thomas M. Zellweger
Chapter 7: Dealing with Increasing Family Complexity to Achieve Transgenerational Potential in Family Firms
Eugenia Bieto, Alberto Gimeno and María José Parada1 7.1 INTRODUCTION Empirical research on family business performance suggests several paradoxical results worthy of discussion. Among the extensive work on the superior performance of family firms versus non-family firms (Anderson and Reeb, 2003) superior performance varies according to the generation and the family’s degree of involvement in the family business (PérezGonzález, 2006; Villalonga and Amit, 2006). In that sense, the family has an influence on family business performance, which seems to be positive in general terms, but can also be negative. This family influence has been termed familiness by Habbershon and Williams (1999), who define it as ‘the unique bundle of resources a particular firm has because of the systems interaction between the family, its individual members, and the business’ (p. 11). Superior performance due to the familiness advantage has been partially challenged by some authors (for example, Chrisman et al., 2003), who point out the weaknesses of family businesses. Limited understanding of the different components of the familiness concept and how it affects the firm’s behavior has been highlighted as a clear gap in the family business literature. Chrisman et al. (2005, p. 238) state: ‘[T]he organizational consequences of familiness in terms of the way decisions are made, functions are performed, and strategies and structures are set, are not known. In other words, we do not know much about what family firms look like, why they are often so successful, or why its success is often limited...
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