Research talk on post-succession change

Research Talk at GGS

Research Talk at GGS


GGS Heilbronn invited me to speak about “stagnation or revolution?” and the drivers (or barriers!) of family firm change after succession. I presented preliminary findings of a joint research project with Stephanie Querbach and Miriam Bird that empirically investigates post-succession innovation and change in several hundreds of Swiss SMEs. If you are interested in the presentation, send me an e-mail.

Symposium on family firms in Graz

Keynote on succession
Keynote on succession

I am very delighted to give a keynote speech on “Talent, motivation, or family ties – what really counts in family firm succession” at today’s first ever family firm symposium in Graz.

The keynote can be downloaded following this Link: Symposium-Graz. (German only)

All data shown in the keynote are taken from the following study. KMU-Studie_2013_DE (German version). KMU-Studie_2013_EN (English version).

11th Conference on Family Businesses in Vallendar

On June 24 and 25, the 11th Conference on Family Businesses will take place at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar. The conference targets family owners and managers – of the senior as well as the next generation – that aim to learn about family business challenges and solutions and  that want to enjoy a true networking event. The topic of this year’s conference is “digitization – and what it means for family firms.” Many family business and digitization experts, such as Karl-Erivan Haub, Christoph Bauer, Tobias Ragge, Frank Thelen, and Tessa Tessner will share their insights and engage in lively discussions.

The event will be held in German. For information, please see the brochure (Broschuere KFU 2016).

New book on family firm innovation

Reinhard Prügl (from Zeppelin University) and I are very happy to present our new book on family firm innovation (in German only), published by Springer.


Here is the description of the book, as displayed in the Springer online shop:

Nadine Kammerlander und Reinhard Prügl geben einen prägnanten Überblick über Innovationen in Familienunternehmen und beleuchten den Innovationsprozess von Familienunternehmen in seinen einzelnen Bestandteilen. Dabei werden die Stärken und Schwächen von Familienunternehmen bezüglich Produkt-, Prozess- und Business Model-Innovationen sowie die Chance für Familienunternehmen, ihren Innovationsprozess zu öffnen („Open Innovation“) diskutiert. Besondere Bedeutung kommt dabei auch der Nachfolge in Familienunternehmen zu, die unter bestimmten Voraussetzungen erfolgreich mit Wandel und Innovation verbunden werden kann.

You can order the book via the Springer website: Link

German family firm conference in Siegen

March, 7-8 the German Family Firm Research Conference (“FIFU DACHLi”) took place in Siegen. More than 60 researchers and practitioners met in order to share new research ideas and to listen to interesting keynotes of Simon Parker and Karl Wennberg. The Family Firm team of WHU was present with 6 participants, taking active roles in the doctoral round tables and paper presentations.

The best paper award was given to my PhD student Alexandra Michel (University of St. Gallen) for her empirical work on advisor utilitization and family firm advising. Congratulations! Alexandra-best-paper

Innovation and Inclusion: The Role of Shared Stories in Family Firms

A ManagementInk reflection on my article on storytelling and innovation in family firms.

Business and Management INK


[We’re pleased to welcome Nadine Kammerlander of University of St. Gallen. Dr. Kammerlander recently published an article in the December 2015 issue of Family Business Reviewwith co-authors Cinzi Dessi, Miriam Bird, Michela Floris, and Alessandra Murru, entitled “The Impact of Shared Stories on Family Firm Innovation: A Multicase Study.”]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Over the last years, researchers have dedicated a lot of effort to understand how organizations should be set up and managed to foster innovation – also in the family business context. But hardly anyone has taken a closer look at the family side. This is a pity, because there is so much anecdotal evidence that, especially in small family firms, a lot of informal stuff is going on. Spouses, kids, and other family members are, for instance, asked before important strategic decisions are taken – but this never gets recorded…

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Family Ownership Stake: Does the Amount Matter?

Often we treat family firms as a monolithic group. In particular, we do not make any differences between firms in which a family holds the majority of shares versus a firm in which the family is a blockholder with as few as 5 or 10% ownership shares. But is this simplification correct?

To answer those questions my former student Nemo Rime, who now works as an investment banking analyst in London, and I sat together in 2013 to design a study that answers how pure family firms (ownership >25%; FF), family-influenced firms (ownership between 5 and 25%; FIF), and non-family firms (NFF) differ in terms of various performance measures and investment behavior.

That‘s the outcome, as summarized in Nemo‘s excellent thesis:

  • In Germany, the pure family firms clearly outperformed the other types of organizations with respect to profit margins. In Switzerland, however, the non-family firms outperformed. Overall, we observed an outperformance of family firms with respect to several performance indicators.
  • Family-influenced firms, however, play a more volatile role, sometimes being top performers and sometimes underperformers
  • The outperformance of family-firms was observed in most years between 2000 and 2014 but seems to be stronger in times of economic crises as compared to boosting economies.
  • Pure family firms spend most money on CAPEX investments and family-influenced firms spend least money on CAPEX.
  • Family-influenced companies had the highest R&D investment, whereas pure family firms had the lowest R&D investments.

More analyses are now required. For instance, some of the findigs above might be due to industry or size differences. But what do we learn so far? Clearly, it is not a good idea to treat all family firms the same, but our anaylses need to become much more advanced!

Rime (2016): EBITDA margin of pure family firms (FF), family-influenced firms (FIF), and non-family firms (NFF)

The findings of this study are based on 365 publically listed German and Swiss firms that were observed from 2000 to 2014.