In order to survive, closely held family firms face a mounting pressure to adapt to rapidly changing competitive environments. However, many of these organizations are often found to be strategically inert and conservative to changes. A key question is under which conditions family firms can overcome inertial forces and reach successful strategic changes. Hereby we make a distinction between the initiation of strategic change (antecedents) and the implementation of strategic change (consequences). This project aims to reach four central scientific objectives which emerged from four important gaps in the literature. These objectives are summarized as follows:
• Cognition: we investigate how and when Management Control Systems (MCS) influence a family firm's knowledge management process in such a way that new strategies are discovered and initiated and subsequently successfully implemented. Main questions are: Do family businesses need different MCS in different stages of the strategy process (initiation vs. implementation)? Is the relationship between MCS characteristics, knowledge management, capacity building and strategic change context-dependent? Which combination of internal knowledge building and external knowledge sourcing leads to knowledge generation that is supportive of strategic change and stimulates change readiness?
• Affect: we examine how Socioemotional Wealth preservation, learning frames, team psychological safety and organizational learning culture impacts upon readiness for strategic change in family firms. We focus on the affective dimension and take a multilevel perspective (individual, group, organization). Central questions are: How do actors in family firms develop readiness for strategic change and what are key influences and catalysts? How do learning frames influence individual cognitive and affective change readiness in a family firm setting? How does the framing of new situations by leaders influence other's framing activities and readiness for change?
• Governance structures: we examine the interactions between family firm's ownership, management and board and the influence of these interrelated family governance mechanisms on strategic change in family firms. Key questions are: How do the interrelationships of Top Management Teams (TMT) and board composition influences strategic change initiation and implementation in family firms? What is the role of family governance mechanisms and how do they interact with firm governance structures (TMT and Board of directors) in facilitating strategic change in family firms?
• Resources: we will investigate the role and impact of financing constraints in the strategic change process from a supply as well as demand side perspective. We will focus on alternative financing sources to initiate and implement strategic change and potential bottlenecks. We will also focus on intergenerational differences.