IFERA 2015 Annual Conference Call for Papers

Tradition and Innovation in Family Business

The International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA) and the Hamburg Institute of Family Owned Business of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) invite you to participate in the IFERA 2015 Conference, to be held in Hamburg, Germany, 30th June to 3rd July, 2015.

The purpose of the conference is to advance family business scholarship by (1) serving as a platform for presentation of carefully crafted contributions seeking to find home in top-tier academic journals, (2) advancement of papers that need further development in order to make a meaningful contribution, (3) testing of new ideas and plans that will benefit of advice from other members of the IFERA family and our distinguished quests, and (4) raising of new and relevant questions concerning family business.

Highlighting the role of IFERA as a bridge between intellectual framings and praxis of family business, the annual conference brings together business families and scholars to identify and advance best practices in the family business. Policy issues are not ignored either. Finally, with the IFERA tradition of having fun, the conference provides an inspiring and a unique atmosphere for networking, bonding, and exchanging ideas.


About the Conference Theme

The Conference invites papers on all aspects of family business research, including but not limited to succession, leadership and governance, entrepreneurship, strategy, family relationships, emotions, family psychology and sociology, economics, finance, and accounting, as well as issues that lie at the intersection of these and other interrelated disciplines. All theoretical and methodological approaches are welcome as we advance the field in a truly multi-disciplinary, creative, rigorous, reflexive, and critical fashion.

In addition, we invite papers that speak directly to the selected conference theme of “Tradition and Innovation in Family Business.”

Tradition and Innovation in Family Business

Family firms can be an exceptional repository of traditional values, beliefs and cultures, as well as products, production techniques and services that are handed down from generation to generation for decades, sometimes centuries. For their long-term survival, family firms need however to continuously renew their competitive advantage by introducing product, process, or organizational innovations.

The nexus of tradition and innovation represents a major opportunity for family firms, but it also entails unique challenges for family firm owners and managers, as well as for professionals and policy makers dealing with family firms. By dedicating the IFERA 2015 theme to “Tradition and Innovation in Family Business”, the Conference particularly invites family business scholars to examine the organizational and managerial implications of the duality between tradition and innovation in family firms. Potential contributions to IFERA 2015 include, but are not limited to, the following questions: 

The Family and Tradition/Innovation

  • What is the relationship between tradition and innovation? Are they different sides of the same coin, on the same side of the coin, or two different coins?  E.g. does respect for tradition sharpen or hinder innovation?
  • How do different academic disciplines help us understand the dimensions, typologies and dynamics of tradition and innovation in families and family firms?
  • Are there specific parenting and family management/leadership styles that promote innovation?  How do family pathologies, conflicts, disharmony affect the establishment or destruction of tradition and innovation?
  • How may family involvement in ownership, management and governance affect innovation inputs, processes and outputs? Have different generations involved in the firm different impacts on innovation behavior? 

The Business and Tradition/Innovation

  • What factors influence risk taking, innovativeness, proactiveness and other dimensions of entrepreneurship in family firms? Does the coupling of tradition and innovation facilitate or hinder opportunity identification and exploitation in family firms? 

Strategies, performance and environments in relation to Tradition/Innovation

  • How do cultures and values affect the open (i.e., collaborative) innovation in family firms? What is the role of myths, ceremonies, “holy cows” and shared meanings within a family in maintaining/reinterpreting tradition and innovation?  Are family firms more or less interested in collaboration to develop innovation activities? How does tradition affect the breath and scope of new knowledge exploration in family firms?
  • How does tradition affect the explorative and exploitative innovative behaviors of family firms, and their combination (e.g., dynamic capabilities, ambidexterity)? Do family firms pursue different types of innovation results than non-family firms? Do they prefer more disruptive or radical innovation?
  • How do innovative practices unfold or develop across generations?  What is the interplay between the received tradition and freedom to innovate in the successive generation? Reflective studies, or deep process studies spanning generations may be especially welcome on this topic.
  • How do tradition and innovation both individually and interactively affect performance in family firms?
  • Does tradition affect the appropriability of firm knowledge and inventions in family firms? Do innovative family firms grow more or diversify more?
  • How does the broader institutional context promote innovation/tradition in the family business?  What explains the variance in innovative businesses under family governance/control across countries? 

In summary, the IFERA 2015 theme “Tradition and Innovation in Family Business” encourages submissions that embrace diverse disciplinary traditions, theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches to (1) advance our understanding of the distinctive opportunities and challenges prompted by the duality between tradition and innovation in family firms, and to (2) help family owners and managers, as well as policy makers and professionals engaged with family firms to effectively manage the nexus between tradition and innovation to build competitive advantages and sustain firm growth and performance across generations.