CFP | Family and organization. Contributions to a theory of the family-influenced firm

Call for Papers

Family and organization. Contributions to a theory of the family-influenced firm 


Steffen Roth, La Rochelle Business School, France, and Kazimieras Simonavičius University in Vilnius, Lithuania
Luca Gnan, Tor Vergata Univerity, Italy
Joseph H. Astrachan, Kennesaw State University, United States of America
Heiko Kleve, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany


Family businesses need to manage the differences between or merge the two worlds of family and business. Either challenge seems hard to meet. Despite decades of family business research and centuries of real-life family business experience, researchers remain confronted with definitional dilemmas (Klein, Astrachan, and Smyrnios, 2005; König, Kammerlander, and Enders, 2013; Binz Astrachan et al., 2018), while corresponding dilemmas regularly compromise the daily family business as well as its long-term survival. Thus, family-business dilemmas constitute serious concerns for family business success that appear even more critical when viewed in the backdrop of the fact that family businesses are the backbone of the majority of free-market economies.

The proposition of a still pending theory of the family-influenced firm, therefore, would be a desirable objective (Astrachan, 2010; Rau, Astrachan, and Smyrnios, 2018). However, established ways of meeting this objective have often hit a cliff insofar as the worlds of family and business could seemingly not be more different. With a pre-modern community of fate on the one side and a modern member-organization with exit option on the other, attempts to bridge the gap have almost inevitably added complexity rather than clarity. Witness the train of cases where organisations have been caught in the appropriation of the languages of family, passion, and intimacy (Czarniawska-Joerges 1992; Pfeffer, 1998; Andersen and Born, 2008; Belle, Burley, and Long, 2015; Ward, 2017; Gill et al., 2018) or been convicted of using this rhetoric as ideology and form of control (Ainsworth and Cox, 2003; Zellweger, 2014). Vice versa, organizational principles, too, have been exported and promoted as family performance management tools. Family insiders are called family members today in want of real exit-option. Basic family structures are assembled on marriage markets (Zelizer, 2005) and other forms of organised public. Family management practices may casually be compared in terms of their anticipated return on investment (Michiels, 2015).

In either direction, the cross-border traffic of family firms’ semantics leads to distorted pictures of both family and business and intensifies the blurring of the definitory boundaries between both realms, from which impressions of dilemmas and paradoxes result. In such a context, it does not help either that families have not yet been particularly popular in management or organization theory. If at all, families are counted as stakeholders or other aspects of the business environment (e.g., Zellweger and Nason, 2008) or subsumed into subsystems of the larger family firm’s systems (e.g., Pieper and Klein, 2007). Over time, financial considerations usually come to the fore, while socio-emotional concerns around the core business tend to recede (Berrone, Cruz, and Gomez-Mejia, 2012). Family firms rest in the mist of choosing a path of actions.

It is therefore with a particular focus on the concept of family, business, and organization-as well as their interplays-that we invite both empirical and conceptual contributions to the development of a theory of the family-influenced firm. The methodological and paradigmatic scope of this special issue is diverse. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Foundations and building blocks of a theory of the family-influenced firm
  • Critical updates for theories of family, organization, and society
  • Family influence versus family consistence of organizations
  • Psychological and social boundaries of the family influence
  • Productive confusions? On families as organizations and organizations as families
  • Family and Organization. The two sides of business families?
  • “Familiness” and “Enterpriseness” of Family Business and Business Families
  • The neglect of society in the theories of the (family-) influenced firm
  • Established or new methods for family business theory development
  • Family businesses: research units or coupled structures?
  • Co-dependencies of family and business. Prospects for imports from dependency therapy research and practice
  • Managerial ideas versus sociological underpinnings

This Call for Papers is linked to the SIG 04 Family Business Research tracks and the standing track ST12_02 Management and Organization Theory at the European Academy of Management Conference in Lisbon (EURAM 2019). Deadline for submission of papers to the EURAM 2019 is 15 January 2019, 2 pm Belgian timeSelected conference papers will be invited for submission to a special issue in a pertinent journal. 


  • Ainsworth, S., & Cox, J. W. (2003). Families divided: culture and control in small family business. Organization Studies24(9), 1463-1485.
  • Andersen, N. Å. M., & Born, A. W. (2008). The employee in the sign of love. Culture and Organization14(4), 325-343.
  • Astrachan, J. H. (2010). Strategy in family business: Toward a multidimensional research agenda. Journal of Family Business Strategy1(1), 6-14.
  • Belle, S. M., Burley, D. L., & Long, S. D. (2015). Where do I belong? High-intensity teleworkers’ experience of organizational belonging. Human Resource Development International18(1), 76-96.
  • Berrone, P., Cruz, C., & Gomez-Mejia, L. R. (2012). Socioemotional wealth in family firms: Theoretical dimensions, assessment approaches, and agenda for future research. Family Business Review25(3), 258-279.
  • Binz Astrachan, C., Botero, I., Astrachan, J. H., & Prügl, R. (2018). Branding the family firm: A review, integrative framework proposal, and research agenda. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 9(1), 3-15.
  • Czarniawska-Joerges, B. (1992). Exploring complex organizations: A cultural perspective.Newbury Park: Sage Publications.
  • Gill, C., Gardner, W., Claeys, J., & Vangronsvelt, K. (2018). Using theory on authentic leadership to build a strong human resource management system. Human Resource Management Review28(3), 304-318.
  • Klein, S. B., Astrachan, J. H., & Smyrnios, K. X. (2005). The F–PEC scale of family influence: construction, validation, and further implication for theory. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice29(3), 321-339.
  • König, A., Kammerlander, N., & Enders, A. (2013). The family innovator’s dilemma: How family influence affects the adoption of discontinuous technologies by incumbent firms. Academy of Management Review38(3), 418-441.
  • Michiels, A., Voordeckers, W., Lybaert, N., & Steijvers, T. (2015). Dividends and family governance practices in private family firms. Small Business Economics44(2), 299-314.
  • Pfeffer, J. (1998). The human equation: Building profits by putting people first. Harvard Business Press.
  • Pieper, T. M., & Klein, S. B. (2007). The bulleye: A systems approach to modeling family firms. Family Business Review20(4), 301-319.
  • Rau, S. B., Astrachan, J. H., & Smyrnios, K. X. (2018). The F-PEC revisited: From the family business definition dilemma to foundation of theory. Family Business Review31(2), 200-213.
  • Ward, S. (2017). From Fontainebleau to Facebook: The early modern discourse of personal sincerity and its echoes in the contemporary discourse of organisational transparency. Systems Research and Behavioral Science34(2), 139-147.
  • Zelizer, V. A. (2005). The purchase of intimacy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Zellweger, T. M., & Nason, R. S. (2008). A stakeholder perspective on family firm performance. Family Business Review21(3), 203-216.
  • Zellweger, T. (2014). Toward a Paradox Perspective of Family Firms: the Moderating Role of Collective Mindfulness of Controlling Families. In L. Melin, M. Nordqvist, and P. Sharma (Eds) The SAGE handbook of family business(pp. 648–655). SAGE Publications Thousand Oaks, CA.

Guest editors of the special issue

Steffen Rothis Full Professor of Management at the La Rochelle Business School, France, and Research Professor of Digital Sociology at the Kazimieras Simonavičius University in Vilnius, Lithuania. He is also Honorary Professor of Sociology at the Yerevan State University, Armenia. He holds a Habilitation in Economic and Environmental Sociology awarded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research; a PhD in Sociology from the University of Geneva; and a PhD in Management from the Chemnitz University of Technology. He is an associate editor of Kybernetesand the field editor for social systems theory of Systems Research and Behavioral Science. The journals his research has been published in include Journal of Business Ethics, Administration and Society, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Journal of Economic Issues, andFutures. His ORCID profile is available at

Luca Gnanis a full professor Organizational Behavior at the Tor Vergata University, where also he is the Director of the Bachelor in Business Administration and Economics. He is the past-president of the European Academy of Management (EURAM). He is Member of the Central Evaluation Committee of the Tor Vergata University and Board member of the Tor Vergata World University. He is and has been involved in various academic and public associations, including membership of the Education Ethics Executive Committee of AOM (Academy of Management), AOM BPS Division representative for Europe, AOM OMT Division Research Committee, Vice-President and Executive director of EURAM (European Academy of Management), Review Board member of FERC (Family Enterprise Research Conference), Sub-theme Convenor of EGOS (European Group of Organizational Studies), and Stream Chair of CMS (Critical Management Studies. Luca Gnan is Editor in chief of the International Journal of transition and Innovation and he has been and is guest editor of various journals, and he has published on topics related to family business governance, corporate and public governance (total publications: 163 – 7 articles in 4 stars International Journals – 18 articles in other international Journals – 59 book’s chapters – 3 books – 5 edited books – 2– minor publications – 5 business cases). His research focus is on family businesses. He investigated family firms’ corporate governance issues, with a special interest on board of directors, governance structures and mechanisms. Recently, he started to investigate family firms’ HR/Organizational issues, with a special interest in HRM Practices. Other research interests are fostering the entrepreneurial orientation in organizations, the strategy formulation processes, and the role of models in decisional processes. As a scholar, his main priority has been to support and mentor junior faculty and doctoral students.

Joseph H. Astrachanis Professor Emeritus and past executive director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at the Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He is also a Faculty Scholar with the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell University, USA, and a visiting scholar at Witten/Herdecke University, Germany. Dr. Astrachan has received numerous awards for his research and service from family business, entrepreneurship, management, and research-oriented associations including awards form the Family Firm Institute andthe Family Business Network International. He has recently (2018) been named one of the top 25 leading scholars in entrepreneurship in a Journal of Small Business Management research article. He is author or coauthor of more than 25 book chapters, 60 scientific publications, and ten books including the much-acclaimed Communication and Conflict in Family Business, andMechanisms to Assure Family Business Cohesion: Guidelines for Family Business Leaders and Their Families. He is a frequent speaker on the topic having given more than 300 speeches around the globe.  Dr. Astrachan is past editor Family Business Review(1995-2008) and recently stepped down as founding editor of the scientific publication the Journal of Family Business Strategy(2010-2018). Dr. Astrachan has over 30 years’ experience studying and working with family companies and has spoken in over 35 countries. He has served on a total of 17 boards of privately-owned family businesses (currently serving on eight) in a variety of industries including: heavy equipment, automotive, high-tech (software and service), restaurants, building materials, food manufacturing, retailing and distribution, commercial and multifamily real estate, and healthcare.  Dr. Astrachan comes from a family business background (container and tanker shipping, coal mining and pharmaceuticals). Dr. Astrachan earned his B.A., M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees at Yale University.

Heiko Kleve is a full professor of Organization and Development of Business Families at the Faculty of Economics, Witten Institut for Family Business (WIFU), University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany. He studied social pedagogy and social sciences (sociology, political science and social philosophy) in Berlin and received his doctor’s degree in sociology. Prior to his appointment at the University of Witten/Herdecke, he was a full professor the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. He has also been a consultant, mediator, coach and supervisor for individuals, families, groups, teams, and organizations for about 20 years. He published twelve books and numerous articles on systems theory, postmodern theory, and systemic methods with a special focus on the field of applied social sciences (such as social work, systemic counselling and constellation work). More information is available at


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