عدم قطعیت محیطی و رفتار استراتژیک در شرکت های خانوادگی بلژیک
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|15099||2004||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 22, Issue 5, October 2004, Pages 588–595
Despite the prevalence and economic importance of family businesses both in Europe and the US, relatively little research has been performed on how these types of firms remain competitive in today’s dynamic environment. The aim of this research project—conducted among a representative sample of family businesses in Belgium—is to analyze a manager’s perception of environmental uncertainty and to link it to the family firm’s strategic behavior. Results indicate that family firm managers do not perceive their environment as a very hostile one. To attain a competitive advantage, most of them opt for a competitive strategy that combines a cost leadership and differentiation perspective. However, a large group of family firms occupies a ’stuck-in-the-middle-position’. The selection of a strategy is linked to family firm goals and the CEO’s uncertainty perception of some specific issues in the family firm’s environment.
Both in Europe and the US, family firms are the predominant form of business (Kirchhoff and Kirchoff, 1987, Donckels and Frölich, 1991 and Olson et al., 2003). They occupy an important economic position within these nations as they provide extensive contributions to gross national products, job generation and wealth creation (Astrachan and Shanker, 1996, Beckhard and Dyer, 1983 and Kelly et al., 2000). Most of these family firms are small or medium-sized. (Donckels and Frölich, 1991 and Corbetta and Montemerlo, 1999). Although before 1975 some limited research was conducted on the subject of family firms, authors nowadays agree that families and business are interlocking systems that affect each other (Harris et al., 1994, Aldrich and Cliff, 2003 and Habbershon et al., 2003). As a result, family firms are likely to be managed differently from non-family businesses (Westhead and Cowling, 1999). The family objective can be more important than the business orientation (Hunt and Handler, 1999 and Leenders and Waarts, 2003). Moreover, family firms are described as being more risk-averse and less growth-oriented. They focus less on technology, creativity and innovation (Donckels and Frölich, 1991). However, most of the family firm managers believe that they are operating in a hostile external environment (Westhead, 1997). So far, little research has been done on how family firm managers perceive today’s dynamic environment. Moreover, little is known about the strategic behavior of family firms in reaction to environmental dynamics (Harris et al., 1994 and Upton et al., 2001; Dyer, 1994 and Dyer, 2003). The goal of this research project is to provide a contemporary perspective on the family firms’ management perception of environmental uncertainty. Furthermore, this article adds to the literature (1) by analyzing the strategic goals and strategy content family firms select in order to maintain or improve their competitive position, and (2) by linking the strategic behavior of those firms to their goals and the CEO’s perception of the uncertainty in the family firm’s environment. The paper is structured as follows. First, a literature review on environmental uncertainty and strategic behavior in family firms is undertaken. Afterwards, the research methodology and sample of this study are described. As no consensus exists on the definition of a family firm, we discuss the definition used for this project in the research design section. Next, the results are presented. The paper ends with a discussion on the research findings and implications for theory and practice.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The goal of this paper was to analyze environmental uncertainty and strategic behavior in a European-based sample of family firms. Several important conclusions can be drawn based on the results of this research project. First, our results confirm the research findings of Dickson and Weaver (1997) related to managers’ perception of environmental uncertainty. Belgian managers also distinguish between different dimensions of this concept. The factor analysis resulted in five dimensions: (1) general uncertainty, (2) technological demand and volatility, (3) potential for future growth and profits, (4) industry uncertainty and (5) demands for internationalization. However, managers of Belgian family firms do not perceive their environment as being very hostile. As such, our results do not confirm the conclusions of Westhead (1997), who stipulated that family firm managers believe they are operating in a hostile environment. The managers in our sample perceive their future potential for profit and growth as rather negatively, but these results could be explained by the timing of the data-collection. In 2002, the economic recession was having a large impact on firms worldwide, and economic growth perspectives were at that time negative for the years to come. All other results in relation to perceived uncertainty were rather positive; a large group of family firms shared the perception that they were operating in an environment in which internationalization or important investments in R&D were not mandated. Secondly, a combination of more family-oriented and business-oriented goals are important amongst our sample of family firms. Improving product quality, independence in ownership and management and high profitability are ranked as most important. However, several variables such as size, stage in the firm life-cycle and generation running the firm seem to have a large impact on the importance of these goals. These results seem to confirm earlier findings (Birley and Sorensen, 1995 and Leenders and Waarts, 2003), indicating that family firms are not a homogeneous group. Further research on this topic is needed. Finally, based on a hierarchical cluster analysis, four different types of competitive strategy were identified amongst the family firms in our sample: (1) cost leadership, (2) differentiation, (3) combination cost-leadership and differentiation and (4) an unclear ‘stuck-in-the-middle’ strategy. Almost forty percent of the respondents opted for a combination of a cost-leadership and differentiation strategy. However, three out of ten respondents did not have a clear focus on differentiation or cost, and were positioned in what Porter (1985) calls a stuck-in-the-middle position. Firms which do not focus on business-oriented goals, as well as firms which emphasize family values are more often situated in this position. Future research will have to reveal if this strategic position has a serious impact on the long-term financial performance of these firms. A link was also developed between the family firm’s competitive strategy and the CEO’s environmental uncertainty perception. High uncertainty related to growth and profitability results in a cost leadership strategy, while the need for internalization stimulates a differentiation behavior.