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

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.

Recension of our family dynasty study by EQUA foundation

The EQUA foundation has published a recension on our study on value creation by family dynasties. In this recension, Dr. Rena Haftlmeier-Seiffert writes:

Thomas Zellweger und Nadine Kammerlander beleuchten mit vorliegender Publikation nun einen völlig neuen Aspekt in der Familienunternehmensforschung. Sie untersuchen die Veränderungen von Unternehmerfamilien im Laufe ihrer Geschichte aus finanztechnischer Perspektive und entwickeln ein 3-Phasenmodell […] Diese kleine Publikation […] sei jeder Unternehmerfamilie empfohlen, die vorhat, die Phase der Gründung und Etablierung eines Unternehmens zu überleben.

You can find the link to the full review (German only) following this link.


New publication on family firm dynasties

How can family businesses remain successful not only over years but over decades? What needs to change from a small, founder-run business to a large and old portfolio of family-influenced firms? And are there any common characteristics of families that managed to build up a dynasty?

Some answers to those questions are included in a new publication of Thomas Zellweger (University of St. Gallen) and myself. In the new – German – booklet, published by the Kirsten Baus Institut, we use a sample of the 100 largest family firms in order to build up a model of long-term value creation in family dynasties.

Link to publication.

Reference: Zellweger, Thomas; Kammerlander, Nadine: Generationenübergreifende Wertgenerierung in Familienunternehmen: Langfriststrategien für Unternehmerfamilien. Schriftenreihe Kirsten Baus Institut, Stuttgart. Heft 25, 2015.

Change of affiliation to WHU

On a personal note: I have left the University of St. Gallen as of December 2015 in order to become the Chaired Professor of Family Business at the Institute for Family Businesses within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany.


My new contact data read as follows (electronic and physical mail delivered to the St.Gallen addresses will not be delivered any more):

Institut für Familienunternehmen

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Postal Adress: Campus Vallendar, Burgplatz 2, 56179 Vallendar, Germany

Address for visitors: D’Esterstraße 11, DG, 56179 Vallendar

Tel.: +49 261 6509-780 ; mail: nadine.kammerlander [ AT ]


CEO characteristics and family firm performance

Many researchers aimed to find out how CEO characteristics affect the performance of large, publicly listed non-family firms. But how about family firms, in which the CEO often has a specific role and long tenure? Is there any specific relationship between CEO age or education and family firm performance? HSG-student Tobias Schori aimed to answer this research question in his master thesis. He collected data on 142 listed family firms from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France in 2013 and finds the following:

  • Functional diversity of the CEO – meaning that the CEO had worked in several different functional areas of the company – has a significant, positive effect on family firm performance (measured as profitability)
  • There is slight evidence that the higher the education of the CEO, the better the family firm performance (measured as Tobin’s Q).
  • Interestingly, the positive effect of CEO education and CEO functional diversity exists for family firms with more than 25% family ownership – but disappears when considering family firms with 5-25% family ownership
  • Contrarily to what we expected, the age of the CEO and the tenure of the CEO did not significantly affect firm performance

The following table illustrates some of the key variables and in particular differences between family and non-family CEOs.

In case of questions or if interested in the full text, please contact nadine.kammerlander[at]

Descriptive data (source: T. Schori)
Descriptive data (source: T. Schori)