Article on storytelling and innovation in family firms selected as AoM Best Paper

Today I got an email with delighting news: Our paper on family firm innovation and the effect of storytelling was selected as “Best Paper” (= top 10%) at the Academy of Management!

The paper is based on interviews with 41 wineries from Italy. We show that for all of them the stories about the family firm that are shared within the family, transferred from one generation to another, are very important for the family members. But they also matter for the firm: The content of the stories affects which decisions are considered as appropriate, who will be given decision-making power, and how conflicts will be solved. For instance, in firms with stories focusing on the founder, only a narrow set of strategic decisions was “allowed” and the older generations had all decision making power. The result was inertia, stillstand. In firms with stories focusing on the family, positive emotions, and values, however, such restrictions did not exist and younger family members were invited to join decision making. The result was much more frequent and more intensive innovations.

I thank my co-authors Cinzia Dessi and Michela Floris (University of Cagliari, Italy) and Miriam Bird (University of St.Gallen) for being part of this great research team!

FiFu Dachli – German speaking conference on family businesses

A great conference is over. In early March 2015, the FiFu Dachli conference for German family business scholars and practitioners took place. Amazingly, more than 80 participants, all interested in family firm research, made their way to Friedrichshafen. The first day was entirely dedicated to the junior faculty. Doctoral students discussed their research ideas and questions with more senior researchers of the field. Prof. Marc Gruber from EPFL gave some valuabe advice on how to publish family firm research in top journals. The second (and unfortunately last) day followed a “classical” conference approach with different talks and presentation. This year the conference was co-organized by Reinhard Prügl and myself. Next year, in March 2016, it will take place at the University of Siegen. For more information, see the conference website (German only).