Theoretical Perspectives on Family Businesses
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Theoretical Perspectives on Family Businesses

Edited by Mattias Nordqvist, Leif Melin, Mattias Waldkirch and Gershon Kumeto

Family business has become an increasingly studied field over the last decade and forms one of the fastest growing research areas today. The uniqueness of family businesses is the interaction between two systems; the family and the business systems, leading to specific characteristics that we rarely see in other types of businesses. In order to understand the interaction between the family and the business systems, researchers have adopted a diverse range of theories from different fields. The contributors provide a thorough discussion of thirteen theoretical perspectives that have been used in family business research to a varying degree. Each chapter introduces a theory, demonstrates its previous application in family business research and offers compelling ideas for future research that could contribute to both the family business field and the original theory behind it. This book aims to spark new insights for researchers and PhD students in the field of family business, and is also a good introduction for researchers who are new to the field.
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Chapter 7: Process thinking and the family business

Emanuela Rondi


Time in family businesses plays a crucial role, connecting past, present and future in a non-linear flux. Despite the centrality of time to change and the becoming of organisations, and of family businesses in particular, currently the research in this field primarily relies on variance theory. In this chapter, I aim to show the potential for process thinking and sensemaking in family business research to investigate how dynamic phenomena evolve over time. After having briefly introduced the process approach and its development, I review how it has been used in the family business field to cope with a wide range of phenomena such as social capital, business failure and portfolio entrepreneurship. Family business is an idiosyncratic context for implementing process studies due to the relevance of time and of social actors’ interaction. Process thinking may provide us with a better understanding of phenomena that have already been studied but analysed from a different perspective, while also enabling the investigation of new areas evolving in time. Keywords: family business, process, process thinking, time, sensemaking

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