Duration: December 2011 – January 2014
Sponsor: Österreichische Nationalbank (OeNB/ Austrian Central Bank) Anniversary Fund
Researchers: Hermann Frank, Daniela Weismeier-Sammer, Julia Süss
With this research project, the Research Institute for Family Business provides an all-embracing examination of familiness by various means. The research project contains three main project phases based on each other: First, we provide a thorough literature review to show how the topic of familiness developed over time. With this review we not only provide a descriptive overview of the literature, but also discuss the different theoretical lenses applied to familiness, the development and impact of familiness on the business, and the different methodical approaches to assess familiness. In doing so, we are able to structure this sub-field of family-business research by consolidating familiness research, leading to promising directions for future research. Second, we employ a case-based approach to gain in-depth insights into Austrian family businesses to reconstruct their specific familiness. Altogether, we interviewed family members of sixteen family businesses of different sizes, ages and sectors, enabling us to contrast cases and establish a familiness typology that reflects the heterogeneity of family businesses and their specific familiness. We take a systems theory-based perspective on familiness and employ objective hermeneutics (fine analysis, systems analysis) to reconstruct latent meaning structures of the businesses incorporating familiness. The third project phase targets the creation of a familiness scale, as to date there is no measure available that might be capable to capture the essence of familiness. After consolidation of the results of the preceding project phases, we test the developed familiness scale by applying it to an Austrian sample of family businesses.