• Summary
  • Overview
  • Key Readings

This new major work answers the growing global need for a resource that captures and presents a comprehensive overview of the literature in the field of family business. The last three decades have witnessed a dramatic increase in research on family businesses, as institutions have increasingly recognized that family businesses represent the most common form of business organization and a large part of the GDP in most countries. Scholars in the field have started to address critical questions such as: Why do family firms deserve special research attention?; Are family firms really different from other business organizations? If so, how? And, so what?; Is there a shared definition of family firms? And, of family in business?; Are behavioral and governance issues that need attention in family enterprises any different from other firms?

This four-volume work addresses these key concerns and provides a rich picture of what we know about family businesses and enterprising families, as well as including critical reflections on major areas and contributions.

Volume One: Scope, Boundaries and Impact of Family Business

Volume Two: The Business Family

Volume Three: The Family Business

Volume Four: Governance and Behavioural Issues in Family Business

Editors' Introduction: Evolution and Scope of Family Business Studies
PramoditaSharma and LeifMelin

Lists such as The world's oldest family firms or the Henokiens confirm that some family enterprises were founded several generations ago. Nevertheless, systematic research on family firms is a relatively new phenomenon. The first dissertation on family firms by Grant Calder (1953) focused on the management problems of small manufacturing firms. A few articles or books on succession (Barnes & Hershon, 1976; Christensen, 1953; Trow, 1961), nepotism (Ewing, 1965), and conflict (Levinson, 1971) appeared in the next two decades. The 1983 special issue of Organization Dynamics signaled the existence of a small community of family firm researchers.

As with all new fields, the first few pioneering years were exploratory as a handful of scholars and ...

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