The family innovator's dilemma: How family influence affects the adoption of discontinuous technologies by incumbent firms

Nadine Kammerlander, University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) - Center for Family Business

We integrate research on family business and discontinuous change to better explain why incumbents vary in when and how they adopt discontinuous technologies. Family influence induces companies to strive for continuity, command, community, and connections and, thus, alters the mix of constraints under which firms operate. Consequently, family influence weakens several of the inertial forces described in the discontinuous change literature, particularly the level of formalization, dependence
on external capital providers, and political resistance. However, it also aggravates critical sources of organizational paralysis, specifically emotional ties to existing assets and the rigidity of mental models. We aggregate these seemingly contradictory effects to show that, overall, discontinuous change conflicts with essential goals and values of the family system, and, therefore, family influence entails fundamentally different dilemmas than those described in extant research.

Venue: A1.23 (Tongersestraat 53)

Date: 11 December 2013

Time: 12:00 - 13:00


UNU-MERIT