The evolving field of family business

Lorna Collins*, Nicholas O'Regan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Purpose This editorial seeks to provide an outline and reasoning for the launch of the new Journal of Family Business Management (JFBM). The paper explains how the family business subject area has developed in previous years and highlights the authors' views on where the subject needs to focus in future. 

Design/methodology/approach This article is an editorial with commentary on the family business subject area. It provides discussion about what is a family business; discusses the growth in family business studies; and highlights the need for family businesses to focus on competitive advantage. 

Findings Family business has evolved significantly over the past decade and today it is a well accepted and respected field of enquiry. In gaining academic acceptance, it has retained its practitioner roots. The paper argues that it is time for a re-think because the focus of previous family business research has become somewhat convoluted with small- and medium-scale enterprises research (at least in the UK) and with particular parts of the family business rather than the entire family business system. 

Research limitations/implications The paper argues that it is still the case that the proportion of family-business-related journals in relation to all business journals is small. Family businesses constitute the majority of global businesses and their contribution to the global economy is significantly greater than non-family-owned businesses. However, academic research on family businesses is still a new field less than 30 years old with many subjects and topics yet to be explored. This paper describes the approach the JFBM will adopt to address this imbalance and how it will focus on research that takes an inclusive, cross-disciplinary approach to the study of family business management. 

Practical implications To continue its impressive upward trajectory, family business management and research needs to embrace new theoretical perspectives and approaches, particularly those that come from disciplines such as psychology, that at the moment have tenuous links to family business studies. It also needs to embrace learning that can be gained from practitioners and develop a useful discourse between stakeholder groups in the family business community. 

Originality/value This article highlights the contribution that this new journal brings to the family business subject area and defines the gap that it aims to fill. It will be useful for academics, researchers and family business practitioners, policy makers and professional business advisors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Family Business Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Competitive advantage
  • Family business


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