Strategic innovation and new product development in family firms: An empirically grounded theoretical framework
De Massis A
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SubjectItaly; Family business; New product development; Family firms; Strategic entrepreneurship; Innovation
Purpose: This study aims to investigate the relationship between the presence of the family variable within a business enterprise and the managerial factors affecting the success of new product development (NPD). This can be structured into three research questions: What is the relationship between the presence of the family variable within a business enterprise and the managerial factors affecting the success of NPD activities? How the managerial factors affecting the NPD process are faced in family firms? Which are the main differences (e.g. strengths and/or weaknesses) in dealing with the managerial factors affecting the NPD process between family and non-family firms? Design/methodology/approach: The study employs a grounded-theory and case-study approach to investigate the relationship between the presence of the family variable within a business enterprise and the managerial factors affecting the success of NPD. The starting point is an in-depth literature review on the managerial factors differentiating family from non-family firms, and the managerial factors affecting NPD success. Then, a multiple case-study on five Italian family firms and five Italian non-family enterprises is conducted. The case-studies lead to the development of an empirically grounded theoretical framework that outlines how the distinctive characteristics of family businesses are related to the managerial factors affecting NPD success. Findings: Family firms clearly emerge as more long-term oriented than non-family enterprises. The long-term orientation of family businesses vs non-family companies seems to play a pivotal role in originating NPD projects with long-term thrust. If a company is long-term oriented it is reasonable to expect that it will put its long-term vision in NPD programs, thus reaching a NPD long-term thrust. Research limitations/ implications: The study advances research on strategic innovation and NPD in family vs non-family firms. It develops new theory at the important intersection of family business and innovation/NPD research, filling a gap in the literature and providing justification and guidance for the design of more comprehensive studies. Future research could investigate and test the theoretical framework on a wider empirical base, using either qualitative or quantitative methods. Originality/ value: The paper addresses the failure of innovation management research to recognize, embrace, and deliberately incorporate family firms. It therefore fills a gap in the literature and extends prior research by introducing specific propositions that are supported by the case data and originally integrating them in the general research stream on NPD and family-firm characteristics. The originality of the study lies also in the fact that it appears to be the first comparative analysis on this specific topic involving both family and non-family enterprises. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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