Intergenerational Succession and Social Capital as antecedents to Enterprise Development and Innovation in Family Firms

   Ulster Business School

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  Dr Judith Woods, Dr Ian Smyth  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Family Firms tend to dominate private sector economies across the world. 86% of all UK business can be categorised as Family Owned (IFB, 2022) and the largest 500 family enterprises globally generate in the region of US$8.02 trillion in revenue (EY, 2023).

Yet, family firms more typically fall into the micro, small and medium sized (MSME) categories. In Northern Ireland alone, this equates to 99.7% of all firms (NISRA, 2022). The Northern Irish Family Business sector is the heartbeat of the Northern Irish economy and represents approximately 328,000 jobs and a 57.2% share of all private sector employment (IFB, 2021).

 The ownership, family and business units make for overlapping systems that combine to make for often complex business undertakings (Taiguri and Davis, 1978). The business and the family are intimately intertwined and have the intent to obtain business success, but also the long-term sustainability of the firm by transferring to future generations (Morris et al., 1997; Dyck et al., 2002; Le Breton-Miller et al., 2004; Wang et al. 2015; Gagné et. al, 2021).

 Given the heterogeneity of these firms, this study responds to calls for a deeper adnd more nuanced understanding of the variance in the behaviours and outcomes of family firms with respect to succession (Rovelli et al., 2022). Specifically, we draw on Social Capital Theory (Arregle et al., 2007; Wang et al., 2015) to examine the interplay

between social capital and succession in answering the following research questions:

 •  How does succession influence family firm social capital?

•  Is there a different influence when we consider intra-family versus external succession?

•  How can / does existing social capital be transferred from one generation of family firm leaders and/or owners to the next?

•  Are there other actors besides the family firm incumbent and the successor who play a role in such transfer?

In pursuit of answers to these questions, we are interested in exploring the application of appropriate analytical methods (e.g. Social Network Analysis (Wasserman and Faust, 1994; Burt et al., 2021) and Network Visualisations (Gadde and Håkansson, 2023)) as both a means to understand the evolutionary development of social capital across generations and, particularly, a deeper understanding of this dynamic as an antecedent of particular outcomes, such as new enterprise development and innovation. Prior literature exists on innovation in the family firm context (Filser et al., 2016; Calabrò et al., 2018; Aparicio et al., 2019; Akram et al., 2021; Casado-Belmonte et al., 2021) but as yet little is known about the interplay between succession and social capital as antecedents of innovation and enterprise development. These are areas we are interested in exploring through this research.

Business & Management (5)

 About the Project