Research Development Workshop on Innovation in Family Firms – Call for Papers

On March 16-17, 2017, we will organize a research development workshop (supported by IFERA in Bolzano, Italy, focusing on the following topic:

Balancing Tradition and Change:
Theorizing on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Family Firm

The RDW will be organized by Nadine Kammerlander (WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany), Kurt Matzler (University of Bolzano, Italy), and Reinhard Prügl (Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany).

We welcome submissions on the workshop topic from family firm scholars as well as innovation / entrepreneurship scholars. Deadline for abstract submission is Nov 25, allowing us to notify acceptances until Dec 15. Full papers need to be sent until January 23 at latest. For details, please see the attached call for papers: IFERA Research Development Workshop_FamilyFirmInnovation_Bolzano_CfP


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.

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.