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Familiness on a dead-end street? The evolution of the familiness concept and its suitability for future research on family firms


  • Sabina Dienemann
  • Stephan Stubner


More than 15 years after the introduction of 'familiness' into the literature, the term has evolved into one of the most popular concepts in family firm research. Despite the steadily growing body of studies that build on familiness, recent calls suggest a need to revisit its conceptualisation due to a lack of a common understanding that could affect future research endeavours. In our systematic literature review of 25 studies, we find support for this notion and show that the discussion on the concept has reached a dead end. We present a systematisation of familiness research that highlights an inconsistent conceptualisation, a lack of validation and even a partial hijacking of the term into contexts different from those originally proposed by Habbershon and Williams (1999). Based on these findings, we present a research agenda aimed at overcoming the current limitations and rejuvenating familiness as a suitable approach to understanding family firm heterogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Sabina Dienemann & Stephan Stubner, 2017. "Familiness on a dead-end street? The evolution of the familiness concept and its suitability for future research on family firms," International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 9(4), pages 392-416.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijeven:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:392-416

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