Sustainability, longevity and transgenerational value in family firms. The case of Amarelli

Purpose of the paper: In family business research, sustainability has never received as much attention as large corporations despite the relevance of their global economic impact. Thus, the papers aim is to investigate this issue by taking two key structures into consideration: longevity and trans-generational value.

Methodology: Drawing on systems theory, we developed an exploratory conceptual framework (Trans-generational Sustainability Model – TSM) for family firms. We argue that the three pillars for the creation of trans-generational value, representing a long-standing value for family businesses, are growth, family success and local embeddedness quality. An exploratory case study on a long-lived Italian family firm (Amarelli) belonging to the Henokiens association, has been conducted to investigate some of the hypotheses that have been developed in relation to this preliminary model.

Findings: In the case of Amarelli sustainability seems to be the result of the combination of a unique strategic orientation and distinctive competences. The presence of family members in management positions is a major concern for the enlarged family and high quality of local embeddedness which are likely to support the creation of trans-generational value.

Practical implications: The balance between the three components of family firms sustainability may provide directions for entrepreneurs in their family firms management, particularly during the succession phase or other disruptive changes involving their businesses.

Originality of paper: This article provides a review of significant trends in the strategic management approach by studying family firms sustainability. Its original contribution is twofold: firstly by its accumulating evidence that the creation of enlarged trans-generational value may determine family businesses longevity and sustainability, and secondly, system theory seems as the leading theoretical perspective.

Full PDF

Riferimenti bibliografici

ALDRICH H.E., CLIFF J.E. (2003), The pervasive effects of family on entrepreneurship: Toward a family embeddedness perspective, Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 18, n. 5, pp. 573-596.

ALLOUCHE J., AMANN B. (2002),Lactionnaire dirigeant de lentreprise familiale, Revue Franaise de Gestion, vol. 5, n. 141, pp. 109-130.

ANTHEAUME N., ROBICA P., BARBELIVIEN D. (2013), French family business and longevity: Have they been conducting sustainable development policies before it became a fashion?, Business History, vol. 55, n. 6, pp. 942-962.

ASTRACHAN J.H. (1988), Family firm and community culture, Family Business Review, vol. 1, n. 2, pp. 165-189.

BACCARANI C., GIARETTA E. (2010), The Key to Vitality. The case of the Italian centenarian family business, Proceedings of14th International Conference on ISO 9000 & TQM, University of Scranton, PA, USA, 5-7 April 2010, pp. 1-6.

BENNEDSEN M., NIELSEN K.M., PREZ-GONZLEZ F., WOLFENZON D. (2006), Inside the family firm: The role of families in succession decisions and performance, Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 122, n. 2, pp. 647-691.

BERRONE P., CRUZ C., GOMEZ-MEJIA L., LARRAZA-KINTANA M. (2010), Socioemotional wealth and corporate responses to institutional pressures: Do family-controlled firms pollute less?, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 55, n. 1, pp. 82-113.

BERRONE P., CRUZ C., GOMEZ-MEJIA L.R. (2012), Socioemotional wealth in family firms: Theoretical dimensions, assessment approaches, and agenda for future research, Family Business Review, vol. 25, n. 3, pp. 258-279.

BEWLEY T.F. (2002), Interviews as a Valid Empirical Tool in Economics, Journal of Socioeconomics, vol. 31, n. 4, pp. 343-353.

BOEHM A. (2005), The participation of business in community decision-making, Business and Society, vol. 44, n. 2, pp. 144-177.

BRICKSON S.L. (2007), Organizational identity orientation: The genesis of the role of the firm and distinct forms of social value, Academy of Management Review, vol. 32, n. 3, pp. 864-888.

CHIRICO F. (2007), The value creation process in family firms. A dynamic capabilities approach, Electronic Journal of Family Business Studies, vol. 2, n. 1, pp. 137-167.

CHRISMAN J.J., CHUA J.H., SHARMA P. (2005), Trends and directions in the development of a strategic management theory of the family firm, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, vol. 29, n 5, pp. 555-576.

CHRISMAN J.J., KELLERMANNS F.W., CHAN K.C., LIANO K. (2010), Intellectual foundations of current research in family business: An identification and review of 25 influential articles, Family Business Review, vol. 23, n. 1, pp. 9-26.

CHUA J.H., CHRISMAN J.J., SHARMA P. (1999), Defining the family business by behavior, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, vol. 23, n. 4, pp. 19-39.

COLLI A. (2012), Contextualizing performances of family firms: The perspectives of business history, Family Business Review, vol. 25, n. 3, pp. 243-257.

COLLINS J.C., PORRAS J.I. (2004), Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Harper Paperbacks, New York.

CORBETTA G., SALVATO C. (2012), Strategies for longevity in family firms, Palgrave MacMillan, London.

COVIN J.G., SLEVIN D.P. (1989), Strategic Management of Small Firms in Hostile and Benign Environments, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 10, n. 1, pp. 75-87.

CRAIG J., DIBRELL C. (2006), The Natural Environment, Innovation, and Firm Performance: A Comparative Study, Family Business Review, vol. 19, n. 4, pp. 275-288.

DE GEUS A. (1999), The Living Company. Growth Learning and Longevity in Business, Harvard Business School Press.

DE MASSIS A., KOTLAR J. (2014), The case study method in family business research: Guidelines for qualitative scholarship, Journal of Family Business Strategy, vol. 5, n. 1, pp. 15-29.

DUH M. (2012), Family Businesses: The Extensiveness of Succession Problems and Possible Solutions, Entrepreneurship – Gender, Geographies and Social Context, in Burger-Helmchen T. (Ed.), InTech, DOI: 10.5772/36284. Available from:

EISENHARDT K.M., GRAEBNER M.E. (2007), Theory Building from Cases: Opportunities and Challenges, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 50, n. 1, pp. 25-32.

ESPOSITO DE FALCO S. (2012), Genesi ed evoluzione dellimpresa. Principi e casi esplicativi, Cedam, Padova.

ESPOSITO DE FALCO S. (2014), La corporate governance per il governo dellimpresa, McGraw-Hill, Milano.

ESPOSITO DE FALCO S., GATTI C. (eds.), (2012), La consonanza nel governo dimpresa, Franco Angeli, Milano.

ESPOSITO DE FALCO S., SCHIAVONE F. (2014), The Evolution of the Italian Textile and fashion Industry: from Tradition to Innovation, International Studies of Management and Organization, vol. 44, n. 1, pp. 3-6.

GIARETTA E., (2004), Vitalit e longevit dimpresa, Giappichelli, Torino.

GINSBERG A., ABRAHAMSON E. (1991), Champions of change and strategic shifts: the role of internal and external change advocates, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 28, n. 2, pp. 173-190.

GOLINELLI G.M. (2010), Viable Systems Approach (VSA), Governing Business Dynamics, Kluwer Cedam, Padova.

GMEZ-MEJA L.R., HAYNES K.T., NEZ-NICKEL M., JACOBSON K.J., MOYANO-FUENTES J. (2007), Socioemotional wealth and business risks in family-controlled firms: Evidence from Spanish olive oil mills, Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 52, n. 1, pp. 106-137.

GMEZ-MEJA L. R., CRUZ C., BERRONE P., DE CASTRO J. (2011), The bind that ties: Socioemotional wealth preservation in family firms, The Academy of Management Annals, vol. 5, n. 1, pp. 653-707.

HABBERSHON T.G., WILLIAMS M.L. (1999), A resource based framework for assessing the strategic advantages of family firms, Family Business Review, vol. 12, n. 1, pp. 1-25.

HABBERSHON T.G., WILLIAMS M., MACMILLAN I.C. (2003), A unified systems perspective of family firm performance, Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 18, n. 4, pp. 451-465.

HABBERSHON T., NORDQVIST M., ZELLWEGER T. (2010), Transgenerational entrepreneurship in Nordqvist M., Zellweger T. (Eds.), Transgenerational entrepreneurship: Exploring growth and performance in family firms across generations, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, England.

JENNINGS W.W., HORAN S.M., REICHENSTEIN W., BRUNEL J.L.P. (2011), Perspectives from the literature of private wealth management, Journal of Wealth Management, vol. 14, n. 1, pp. 8-40.

KELLERMANNS F.W, EDDLESTON K., BARNETT T., PEARSON A. (2008), Family member characteristics and involvement: effect on entrepreneurial behavior in the family firm, Family Business Review, vol. 21, n. 1, pp. 1-14.

KWEE Z., VAN DEN BOSCH F.A.J., VOLBERDA H.W. (2008), Coevolutionary competence in the realm of corporate longevity: how long-lived ?rms strategically renew themselves, in Sanchez R. (Ed.), Research in Competence-Based Management, Emerald, Bingley.

LINNENLUECKE M.K., GRIFITHS A. (2010), Corporate sustainability and organizational culture, Journal of World Business, vol. 45, n. 4, pp. 357-366.

LOMI A., LARSEN E.R., GINSBERG A. (1997), Adaptive Learning in Organizations: A System Dynamics-Based Exploration, Journal of Management, vol. 23, n. 4, pp. 561-582.

LUMPKIN G.T., BRIGHAM K.H., MOSS T.W. (2010), Longterm orientation: Implications for the entrepreneurial orientation and performance of family businesses, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, vol. 22, n. 3, pp. 1-24.

LUMPKIN G.T., DESS G.G. (1996), Clarifying the Entrepreneurial Orientation Construct and Linking it to Performance, Academy of Management Review, vol. 21, n. 1, pp.135-172.

MC WILLIAMS A., SIEGEL D., WRIGHT P.M. (2006), Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategic Implications, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 43, n. 1, pp. 1-18.

MILLER D., LE BRETON-MILLER I. (2005), Managing for the Long Run: Lessons in Competitive Advantage from Great Family Businesses, MA: Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

MILLER D. (1983), The Correlates of Entrepreneurship in three Types of Firms, Management Science, vol. 29, n. 7, pp. 770-791.

MILLER D., JANGWOO L., SOODUCK C., LE BRETON-MILLER I. (2009), Filling the institutional void: The social behavior and performance of family vs non family technology firms in emerging markets, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 40, n. 5, pp. 802-817.

NAPOLITANO M.R., MARINO V., RIVIEZZO A., GAROFANO A. (2013), Moving forward or running to stand still? The relationship between family firms strategic posture and longevity, Convegno AIDEA, Lecce, 19-21 settembre.

NORDQVIST M., MELIN L. (2010), Entrepreneurial families and family firms, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, vol. 22, n. 3, pp. 1-29.

OLSON P.D., ZUIKER V.S., DANES S.M., STAFFORD K., HECK R.K.Z., DUNCAN K.A. (2003), The impact of the family and the business on family business sustainability, Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 18, n. 5, pp. 639-666.

PATTON M.Q. (2002), Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods, Sage, CA Thousand Oaks.

PIANCASTELLI M. (2004), Pina Amarelli. Il fascino discreto della liquirizia, Veronelli Editore, Bergamo.

ROSSATO C. (2013), Longevit dimpresa e costruzione del futuro, Giappichelli, Torino.

SHARMA P., SHARMA S. (2011), Drivers of proactive environmental strategy in family firms, Business Ethics Quarterly, vol. 21, n. 2, pp. 309-34.

SIRMON D.G., HITT M.A. (2003), Managing resources: Linking unique resources, management, and wealth creation in family firms, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, vol. 27, n. 4, pp. 339-358.

SODANO M. (2011), La liquirizia globale nata tre secoli fa, La Stampa del 4 luglio 2011, pp. 29-31.

STAFFORD K., DUNCAN K.A., DANE S., WINTER M. (1999), A research model of sustainable family businesses, Family Business Review, vol. 12, issue 3, pp. 209-219.

TAGIURI R., DAVIS J.A. (1992), On the goals of successful family companies, Family Business Review, vol. 5, n. 1, pp. 43-62.

TROCHIM W. (1989), Outcome pattern matching and program theory, Evaluation and Program Planning, vol. 12, n. 4, pp. 355-366.

UHLANER L.M. (2006), Business Family as Team: Underlying Force for Sustained Competitive Advantage, in Poutziouris P., Smyrnios K.X., Klein S.B. (eds.), Handbook of Research on Family Business, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 125-144.

VILLALONGA B., AMIT R. (2006), How do family ownership, control and management affect firm value?, Journal of Financial Economics, vol. 80, n. 2, pp. 385-417.

VON BERTALANFFY L. (1968), General System Theory. Development, Applications, George Braziller, New York.

YIN R. (1994), Case study research: Design and methods, 2nd edition, Sage Publishing, Beverly Hills, CA.

YU A., LUMPKIN G.T., SORENSON R.L., BRIGHAM K.H. (2012), The landscape of family business outcomes: A summary and numerical taxonomy of dependent variables, Family Business Review, vol. 25, n. 1, pp. 33-57.

ZELLWEGER T.M., ASTRACHAN J. (2008), On the emotional value of owning a firm, Family Business Review, vol. 21, n. 4, pp. 347-363.

ZELLWEGER T.M., NASON R.S., NORDQVIST M. (2012), From Longevity of Firms to Transgenerational Entrepreneurship of Families: Introducing Family Entrepreneurial Orientation, Family Business Review, vol. 25, n. 2, pp. 136-155.