MOR Frontiers Conference

MOR PDW at 2019 AIB Copenhagen


Arie Y. Lewin (Duke University,

Alenka Braček Lalić (IEDC – Bled School of Management, Slovenia, Vice Dean for Research,

Xiaowei Rose Luo (INSEAD,

The PDW program will include a panel discussion on unexplored research opportunities on family business in transition economies. The panelists include Professor Arie Y. Lewin, Professor Xiaobo Wu (Zheijiang University), Dr. Alenka Braček Lalić, and Professor Peter Ping Li (Copenhagen Business School and University of Nottingham Ningbo). Following the panel discussion each panelist will lead round table discussions with authors of accepted extended abstracts.

The deadline for submitting an extended paper abstract (7–10 pages) is March10, 2019. Papers should be submitted to Ms. Stefanie McAdoo Subject line should read AIB PDW Abstract. Invitations to participate in the AIB PDW on Research on Family Businesses in Transition Economies will be made on a running basis through March 31, 2019. 

If you have any questions, please contact Arie Lewin at Extended papers can be submitted in any formatting style but must clearly identify authors, university affiliation, and email address. By submitting a paper at least one of the paper’s authors commits to participating in the workshop if the application is accepted and must register for 2019 AIB conference in Copenhagen  (

The literature on family businesses has a long tradition and is quite extensive. However, the phenomenon in transition economies is largely unexplored. An incomplete review of International Business journals finds over 167 papers on the topic of family businesses (eight of which are in the context of China). Miller, Le-Breton Miller, Lester, and Canella (2007) define family businesses as “firms in which multiple members of the same family are involved as major owners or managers, either contemporaneously or over time.” This definition serves as good starting point for research on family businesses in China, India, and other transition economies. According to the Family Firm Institute (, the economic contribution, impact, and scope of family enterprises across the world is undeniably, and perhaps surprisingly, extremely significant. For example, as of 2017 family firms account for two-thirds of all businesses, create 70%–90% of annual global gross domestic product (GDP), and account for 50%–80% of jobs in most countries.

The literature on family businesses covers a range of topics far wider than can be summarized here. De Massis, Frattini, Majocchi, and Piscitello (2018) provide a comprehensive review of the literature. The inescapable conclusion is that research on family enterprises in transition economies is an underexplored research area. Moreover, the phenomenon of family businesses that emerge as leaders in their niche or sector is almost entirely under researched. Simon (1996, 2009) highlights German “hidden” champions, who employ 15% of all German employees and account for 40% of allexports by German firms;almost all of which are family-owned small and medium-size enterprises, and are the backbone of German manufacturing.

However, Mckiernan and Purg (2013) report that the phenomenon of companies that are champions in their niche or sector can be found in Greece, Turkey, Central and Eastern Europe (Russia, former Soviet republics, and Eastern Europe), and China (Lei 2018). Although China, India, and Latin America are three regions where family businesses account for a high percentage of employment and contribution to GDP, research is lacking on the history, emergence, and evolution of family-owned businesses in general, especially on niche and sector leaders. Topics such as socioemotional wealth (Gomez-Mejía, Haynes, Núñez-Nickel, Jacobson, & Moyano-Fuentes, 2007) as a reason that some founders and family successors strive to become niche or sector leaders are clearly under researched. Similarly, research is lacking on the role of institutional voids, venture capitalist investment in potential leaders or innovation leaders (Florida & Kenney, 1998), handing over firms from founders to the next of kin, leadership, management philosophies reflected in beliefs such aszhongyongand Confucianism, internalization, corporate social responsibility, the impact of family members in middle management, and the relationship with urban and provincial policy makers and regulators.

Research on family businesses in China and other transforming economies is greatly needed, and this aligns with theManagement and Organization Reviewinitiative to encourage research on phenomena that can break new ground involving engaged indigenous scholarship on topics that are relevant and potentially impactful for transforming economies striving to escape the middle-income trap as exemplified in the Chinese initiatives ‘Made in China 2025’ and ‘Industry 4.0’.


De Massis, A., Frattini, F., Majocchi, A., & Piscitello, L. 2018. Family firms in the global economy: Toward a deeper understanding of internationalization determinants, processes, and outcomes. Global Strategy Journal, 8(1): 3–21.

FloridaR. L., & Kenney, M. 1988. Venture capital, high technology and regional development. Regional Studies, 22(1): 33–48.

Gomez–Mejia, L., Haynes, K. T., Núñez–Nickel, M., Jacobson, K. J. L., & Moyano–Fuentes, J. 2007 .Socioemotional wealth and business risks in family–controlled firms: evidence fromSpanish olive oil mills. Administrative Science Quarterly, 52(1): 106–137.

Lei, L. N. 2018. Mechanism study of strategic schemas on firm growth of Hidden Champions in Chinese manufacturing. PhD dissertation. Zhejiang University,

McKiernan, P., & Purg. D. (Eds.). 2013. Hidden Champions in CEE and Turkey. Berlin: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Miller, D., Le Breton–Miller, I., Lester, R., Canella, A. A. Jr. 2007. Are family firms really superior performers? Journal of Corporate Finance, 13(5): 829–858.

Simon, H. 1996. You don’t have to be German to be a ‘Hidden Champion’. Business Strategy Review, 7(20): 1–13.

Simon, H. 2009. Hidden Champions of the twenty-first century: Success strategies of unknown world market leaders. New York: Springer.