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Building a Family Firm Image : How Family Firms can capitalize on their Familiness

Thomas Zellweger, Franz W. Kellermanns & Kimberley H. Eddleston

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abstract There is much debate regarding whether family firms have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Some believe that their greatest competency may be their familiness; or the resources that accrue at the intersection of the family and business systems. Building on this belief, we argue that firms that brand themselves as family businesses may experience superior performance since consumers often see family firms as trustworthy, quality-driven and customer-focused. Thus, a family firm image may be a way for family firms to exploit their familiness in the marketplace. The results from our study support this view and also identify factors that increase the likelihood that a family business will choose to create a family firm image. Family firms that express much pride in their family connection and heritage, have strong ties with other businesses in their communities, and stress a long-term orientation in strategic planning were most likely to possess a strong family firm image. These results were found through a survey-based study of 179 CEOs of privately-held family businesses in Switzerland.

Our findings have important implications for practice because they demonstrate how family firms may be able to accrue a performance advantage in the marketplace. While some family firms choose to downplay their family ties, perhaps due to (mis)perceptions regarding their conservatism and resistance to change, those firms that decide to foster a family firm image by branding themselves as family firms and highlighting their family involvement seem to be most successful. Therefore, in these tough economic times when it is most necessary for firms to stand-out from the crowd to garner and maintain business, our results suggest that building a family firm image may help family businesses to successfully compete. A family firm image may facilitate firm performance and may also help family firms to weather economic downturns.
   
type conference paper (English)
   
keywords Identity, Family firms
   
name of conference 24th Annual USASBE Conference 2010 (Nashville)
date of conference 14-1-2010
title of proceedings Entrepreneurship
publisher United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (Nashville TN)
review double-blind review
   
citation Zellweger, T., Kellermanns, F. W., & Eddleston, K. H. (2010). Building a Family Firm Image: How Family Firms can capitalize on their Familiness. In Entrepreneurship. Nashville TN: United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.