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 ]


Patenting behavior of family firms

In his thesis, Dario Flückiger examined the patenting behavior of 69 automotive companies with European headquarters over the course of 3 years. Here is what he found:

  • There is no significant difference in the number of patents between family and non-family firms
  • However, patents of family firms are significantly less cited than that of non-family firms. This could be a sign of family firms innovating less radically with their innovations having less impact for the entire industry development
  • In terms of sales growth and profitability, family firms were outperforming non-family firms
  • Number of patents and patent citations both had a positive and significant effect on sales growth (measured with a 3-year time lag).
  • However, interestingly, number of patents and patent citations had a negative and significant effect on profitability (measured with a 3-year time lag)

If you are interested in the full results, please send an email to nadine.kammerlander [at]

Job opening: Two positions as PhD students/assistants

Are you interested in doing research on entrepreneurship, innovation, or family businesses? Are you smart, motivated, and a good team player? Do you want to learn how to publish papers in top-journals? Do you want to have close contact to practice while doing research? Do you want to live in one of the nicest areas in Germany, located besides a beautiful town (Koblenz) and being close to German metropolises such as Cologne and Frankfurt? … Then apply for one of two open PhD positions! For details, see below. Questions and applications should be directed to nadine.kammerlander [ AT ]



Continue reading

How can family firms motivate their employees to be innovative?

Employees are a key success factor for innovation – but how to motivate them?

Recent research showed that family firms are, on average, very innovative. But why is that? One reason provided by scholars is that employees in family firms feel especially encouraged to share their innovative ideas and implement them because of the particular “family firm culture.” So far, so good. But some of the readers might  wonder how exactly family firm owner-managers can motivate their employees to contribute to innovation. HSG-student, Johannes Netzhammer aimed to answer this question by integrating literature on family firms, innovation, and motivation. Here comes the summary of his excellent conceptual bachelor thesis (for references to original literature, please request the full text of the thesis):

Continue reading

Doing more with less: Innovation input and output of family firms ( Summary of our AMJ in press article)

Here’s what our meta-analysis* shows:

You ever wondered whether family firms are more or less innovative?

Well, both views hold some merit. First, yes, family firms invest indeed less into innovation. But why are they so stingy? Agreeing with some other researchers, we claim this has several reasons: First, family firms prefer less uncertain or “risky” investments such as increasing production capacity. Just imagine, all your wealth is concentrated into one asset (this is what many family owners’ portfolio actually looks like): Would you like the idea of investing in risky projects? Probably not. Second, innovation is really expensive. Often, industry average is that firms invest more than 10% of revenues into R&D. That’s a lot. And the money needs to come from somewhere, for instance, from banks or the stock market. But both options, bank loans and equity shares, would reduce the family’s control over the firm – something that family owners dislike a lot.

The story could end here… And too often, researchers and practitioners alike have stopped with the claim that family firms are less innovative. But wait: What about the innovation process? Isn’t it the outcome of the innovation process that actually counts? Indeed, we argue and show that family firms have a greater conversion rate than non-family firms. As a consequence, they even have greater innovation output – despite lower input.

Continue reading

Do family businesses lose innovative capacity over time?

Is the succession phase a threat or opportunity for innovation? And, do family firms sufficiently build on external sources of innovation?

These and other questions were discussed in an interactive (“brain walk”) workshop session, moderated by Prof. Reinhard Prügl, and myself at the Friedrichshafener Familienfrühling 2015 (“FFF”). The FFF is a bi-annual, two-day conference organized by the Zeppelin University, targeted at family business owners and managers. Although quite large in size (roughly 200 participants), the atmosphere was amazingly informa, familiar, and cordial.

Interested in the results? Write me an e-mail (nadine.kammerlander [at] or wait for the Springer Essentials book to be launched in summer (in German only).

Hermut Kormann presenting the workshop results
Hermut Kormann presenting the workshop results