How family businesses benefit from familiness: Strategy change




familiness, human capital, social capital, strategy change


This article examines the impact of the attribute of “familiness” on family businesses when they decide to change strategies and its implications for their economic lives. An empirical investigation was conducted using a quantitative approach to analyze 135 family coffee producers in Brazil. While some producers continued to pursue the same low-cost strategic orientation despite a fundamental institutional change, others decided to switch to a differentiation strategy to benefit from new market opportunities. The effect of familiness varies between early and late adopters of the new strategy. Our empirical findings provide clarification on the paradoxical nature of familiness by isolating its positive and negative effects on business strategy choice. The article concludes with recommendations for family businesses and policy makers based on our empirical results. 


Download data is not yet available.


Acqaah, Moses. 2007. “Managerial social capital, strategic orientation, and organization performance in an emerging economy.” Strategic Management Journal 28: 1235-1255.

Acqaah, Moses. 2011. “Business strategy and competitive advantage in family businesses in Ghana: the role of social networking relationships.” Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship 16 (1): 103-126.

Almaraz Alvarado, Araceli. 2020. “Perdurability, families, and internationalization processes: approaches from business history in Latin America.” Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business 5(2): 1-32.

Arregle, Jean-Luc, Michael A. Hitt, David G. Sirmon, and Philippe Very. 2007. “The development of organizational social capital: attributes of family firms.” Journal of Management Studies 44(1): 74-95.

Balán, Pablo, Juan Dodyk, and Ignacio Puente. 2022. “The political behavior of family firms: Evidence from Brazil.” World Development 151. 105747

Barney, Jay B. 1986. “Strategic factor markets: expectations, luck, and business strategy.” Management Science 32(10): 1231-1241.

Barney, Jay B. 1991. “Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage.” Journal of Management 17(1): 99-120.

Basco, Rodrigo, and Lech Suwala. 2020. “Spatial familiness: a bridge between family business and economic geography.” In A research agenda for family business. A way ahead for the field, edited by Andrea Calabrò, 185-212. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Becker, Gary S. 1964. Human capital: a theoretical and empirical analysis, with Special Reference to Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3rd ed.

Botero, Isabel C., Allan Discua Cruz, and Claudio G. Müller. 2018. “Family firms in Latin America: Why are they important and why should we care?” In Family Firms in Latin America, edited by Claudio G. Müller, Isabel C. Botero, Allan Discua Cruz, and Ram Subramanian. New York: Routledge.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1985. “The social space and the genesis of groups.” Social Science Information 24: 195-220.

Burt, Ronald S. 1992. Structural Holes: The social structure of competition, Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Cano-Rubio, Myriam, Guadalupe Fuentes-Lombardo, María Jesús Hernández-Ortiz, and Manuel Carlos Vallejo-Martos. 2016. “Composition of familiness: Perspectives of social capital and open systems.” European Journal of Family Business 6(2): 75-85.

Chrisman, James J., Jess H. Chua, and Reginald Litz. 2003. “A unified systems perspective of family firm performance: an extension and integration.” Journal of Business Venturing 18(4): 467-472.

Chrisman, James J., Jess H. Chua, and Pramodita Sharma. 2005. “Trends and directions in the development of a strategic management theory of the family firm.” Entrepreneurial Theory and Practice 29(5): 555-576.

Coleman, James S. 1988. “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital”. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95-S120.

Coleman, James S. 1990. Foundations of social theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Conner, Kathleen R., and Prahalad, C.K. 1996. “A resource-based theory of the firm: knowledge versus opportunism.” Organization Science 7(5): 477-501.

Cox, D.R. 1972. “Regression models and life tables (with Discussion).” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B, 34: 187-220.

Czakon, Wojciech, Monika Hadjdas, and Joanna Radomska. 2023. “Playing the wild cards: Antecedents of family firm resilience.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 14(1): 100484.

Dalla Costa, Armando João, Carlos Eduardo Drumond, and José María Las Heras. 2015. “Empresas y grupos empresariales brasileños en perspectiva histórica.” In Familias empresarias y grandes empresas familiares en América Latina y España: Una visión de largo prazo,edited by Paloma Fernández Pérez and Andrea Lluch, 189-217. Bilbao: Fundación BBVA.

Danes, Sharon M., Kathryn Stafford, George Haynes, and Sayali S. Amarapurkar. 2009. “Family capital of family firms: bridging human, social and financial capital.” Family Business Review 22(3): 199-215.

Dawson, Alexandra. 2012. “Human capital in family businesses: Focusing on the individual level.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 3(1): 3-11.

Deferne, Marie, Alexandra Bertschi-Michel, and Julia de Groote. 2023. “The role of trust in family business stakeholder relationships: A systematic literature review.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 14(1): 100501.

Ding, Hung-bin, and Pier A. Abetti. 2003. “The entrepreneurial success of Taiwan: synergy between technology, social capital and institutional support.” In Advances in the study of entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth (vol. 14), edited by Gary, D. Libecap, 91-123. Oxford: Elsevier Science. v. 14, 251p.

Eddleston, Kimberly A., Franz Willi Kellermanns, and Ravi Sarathy. 2008. “Resource configuration in family firms: linking resources, strategic planning and technological opportunities to performance.” Journal of Management Studies 45(1): 26-50.

Fernández Moya, María, and Paloma Fernández Pérez. 2019. “The creation and transfer of entrepreneurship in emerging economies of the world. An approach through large family-owned corporations of China, Mexico and Brazil.” Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business 4(2): 132-174.

Fernández Pérez, Paloma, and Andrea Lluch. 2016. Evolution of Family Business: Continuity and Change in Latin America and Spain. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 270.

Frank, Hermann, Manfred Lueger, Lavinia Nosé, and Daniela Suchy. 2010. “The concept of ‘‘Familiness’’ Literature review and systems theory-based reflections.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 1(3): 119-130.

Frank, Hermann, Alexander Kessler, Thomas Rusch, Julia Suess-Reyes, and Daniela Weismeier-Sammer. 2017. “Capturing the familiness of family businessess: Development of the famiy influence familiness scale (FIFS).” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 41(5): 709-742.

Gibbons, Robert, and Michael Waldman. 2004. “Task-specific human capital.” AEA Papers and Proceedings 94(2): 203-207.

González, Carlos, and Ana González-Galindo. 2022. “The institutional context as a source of heterogeneity in family firm internationalization strategies: A comparison between U.S. and emerging market family firms.” International Business Review 31(4): 101972.

Habbershon, Timothy G., and Mary L. Williams. 1999. “Resource-based framework for assessing the strategic advantages of family firms,” Family Business Review 12(1): 1-26.

Habbershon, Timothy G., Mary L. Williams, and Ian C. MacMillan. 2003. “A unified systems perspective of family firm performance.” Journal of Business Venturing 18(4): 451-465.

Hatch, Nile W,. and Jeffrey H. Dyer. 2004. “Human capital and learning as a source of sustainable competitive advantage.”. Strategic Management Journal 25: 1155-1178.

Hitt, Michael A., Leonard Bierman, Katsuhiko Shimizu, and Rahul Kochhar. 2001. “Direct and moderating effects of human capital on strategy and performance in professional service firms: a resource-based perspective.” Academy of Management Journal 44(1): 13-28.

Herrero, Inés, and Matthew Hughes. 2019. “When family social capital is too much of a good thing.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 10(3): 100271.

Hoffman, James, Mark Hoelscher, and Ritch Sorenson. 2006. “Achieving sustained competitive advantage: a family capital theory.” Family Business Review 19(2): 135-145.

Irava, Wayne, and Ken Moores. 2010. “Clarifying the strategic advantage of familiness: Unbundling its dimensions and highlighting its paradoxes.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 1(3): 131-144.

James Jr, Harvey Stanley, and Michael E. Sykuta. 2006. “Farmer trust in producer-and investor-owned firms: evidence from Missouri corn and soybean producers.” Agribusiness: An International Journal 22(1): 135-153.

Kor, Yasemin Y., and Joseph T. Mahoney. 2004. “Edith Penrose’s (1959) contributions to the resource-based view of strategic management.” Journal of Management Studies 41(1): 183-191.

Kor, Yasemin Y., Joseph T. Mahoney, and Steven C. Michael. 2007. “Resources, capabilities and entrepreneurial perceptions.” Journal of Management Studies 44(7): 1187-1212.

Lane, Peter J., and Michael Lubtkin. 1998. “Relative absorptive capacity and interoganizational learning.” Strategic Management Journal 19(5): 461-477.

Leibtag, Ephraim, Alice Nakamura, Emi Nakamura, and Dawit Zerom. 2007. “Cost Pass-Through in the U. S. Coffee Industry.” In Economic Research Report (38), USDA United States Department of Agriculture. Available at

Leonard-Barton, Dorothy. 1992. “Core capabilities and core rigidities.” Strategic Management Journal 13: 111-125.

Lippman, S., and R.P. Rumelt. 1982. “Uncertain imitability: an analysis of interfirm differences in efficiency under competition.” Bell Journal of Economics 13(2): 418-438.

Mahoney, Joseph T., and J. Rajendran Pandian. 1992. “The resource-Based view within the conversation of strategic management.” Strategic Management Journal 13(5): 363-380.

Miller, Danny, Jangwoo Lee, Sooduck Chang, and Isabelle Le Breton-Miller. 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 40(5): 802-817.

Moores, Ken. 2009. “Paradigms and theory building in the domain of business families.” Family Business Review 22(2): 167-180.

Mosakowski, Elaine. 2002. “Overcoming resource disadvantages in entrepreneurial firms: when less is more” In Strategic entrepreneurship: creating a new integrated mindset, edited by Hitt, Michael A., R. Duane Ireland, S. Michael Camp, and Donald L. Sexton, 106-126. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Müller, Claudio G., Fernanda Canale, and Allan Discua Cruz. 2022. “Green innovation in the Latin America agri-food industry: understanding the influence of family involvement and business practices.” British Food Journal 124 (7): 2209-2238.

Nahapiet, Janine, and Sumantra Ghoshal. 1998. “Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organization advantage.” Academy of Management Review 23(2): 242-266.

Pearson, Allison W., Jon C. Carr, and John C. Shaw. 2008. “Toward a theory of Familiness: A Social Capital Perspective.”. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 32(6): 949-969.

Penrose, Edith. 1959. The theory of the growth of the Firm. New York: John Wiley (3rd ed.)..

Peteraf, Margaret. 1993. “The cornstones of competitive advantage: a resource-based view”. Strategic Management Journal, 14 (3), 179-191.

Salvato, Carlo, and Leif Melin. 2008. “Creating value across generations in family-controlled businesses: the role of family social capital.” Family Business Review 11 (3): 259-276.

Schultz, Theodeore W. 1961. “Investment in human capital.” The American Economic Review 51(1): 1-17.

Schultz, Theodeore W. 1982. “Investment in entrepreneurial ability.” Scandinavian Journal of Economics 82(4): 437–448.

Shane, Scott, and Toby Stuart. 2002. “Organizational endowments and the performance of university start-ups.” Management Science 48(1): 154-170.

Sharma, Pramodita. 2008. “Commentary: Familiness: Capital stocks and flows between family and business.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 32(6): 971-977.

Sirmon, David G., and Michael A. Hitt. 2003. “Managing resources: linking unique resources, management, and wealth creation in family firms.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 27(4): 339-358.

Smith, Donna, Joseph F. Hair, and Keith Ferguson. 2014. “An investigation of the effect of family influence on Commitment-Trust in retailer-vendor strategic partnerships.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 5(3): 252-263.

Sorenson, Ritch L., and Leonard Bierman. 2009. “Family capital, family business, and free enterprise.” Family Business Review 22(3): 193-195.

Stafford, Kathryn, Vibha Bhargava, Sharon M. Danes, George Haynes, and Katherine E. Brewton. 2010. “Factors associated with long-term survival of family businesses: duration analysis.” Journal of Family and Economic Issues 31(3): 442-457.

Stafford, Kathryn, Sharon M. Danes, and George W. Haynes. 2013. “Long-term family firm survival and growth considering owning family adaptive capacity and federal disaster assistance receipt.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 4(3): 188-200.

Stanley, Laura J., and William McDowell. 2014. “The role of in interorganizational trust and organizational efficacy in family and nonfamily firms.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 5(3): 264-275.

Steier, Lloyd. 2001. “Next-Generation entrepreneurs and succession: an exploratory study of modes and means of managing social capital.” Family Business Review 19(3): 259-276.

Tripsas, Mary, and Giovanni Gavetti. 2000. “Capabilities, cognition & inertia: evidence from digital imaging.” Strategic Management Journal 21(special issue): 1147-1162.

Uzzi, Brian. 1997. “Social structure and competition in interfirm networks: the paradox of embeddedness.” Administrative Science Quarterly 42(1): 35-67.

Walker, Gordon, Bruce Kogut, and Weijian Shan. 1997. “Social capital, structural holes and the formation of an industry network.”. Organization Science 8(2); 109-125.

Welter, Friederike, and David Smallbone. 2006. “Exploring the role of trust in entrepreneurial activity.” Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice 30(4): 465-475.

Welter, Friederike, and David Smallbone. 2011. “Institutional perspectives on entrepreneurial behavior in challenging environments.” Journal of Small Business Management 49(1): 107-125.

Zellweger, Thomas M., Kimberly A. Eddleston, and Franz W. Kellermanns. 2010. “Exploring the concept of familiness: Introducing family firm identity.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 1(1): 54-63.

Zellweger, Thomas M., Franz W. Kellermanns, Kimberly A. Eddleston, and Esra Memili. 2012. “Building a family firm image: How family firms capitalize on their family ties.” Journal of Family Business Strategy 3(4): 239-250.




How to Cite

Mizumoto, Fabio Matuoka. 2024. “How Family Businesses Benefit from Familiness: Strategy Change”. Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business 9 (1):9-32.