Entrepreneurship and Family Business Research: Comparisons, Critique, and Lessons

By Brockhaus, Robert H., Sr. | Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Fall 1994 | Go to article overview

Entrepreneurship and Family Business Research: Comparisons, Critique, and Lessons


Brockhaus, Robert H., Sr., Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice


Academic interest in family business is relatively recent. However, interest is rapidly growing among a diverse group of researchers. This rapid increase is similar to that which occurred in the field of entrepreneurship during the last two decades. The two areas are similar enough that there may be some value in examining the development of entrepreneurship research to learn if it might offer some guidance that will help family business researchers to advance their field more quickly and effectively. Toward this end, the development of entrepreneurship research will be reviewed and its status in several areas common to family business will be presented. In a similar manner, family business research will be reviewed and critiqued. Finally, some specific recommendations will be presented that can enhance the quality and value of family business research.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND FAMILY BUSINESS RESEARCH

Researchers

Entrepreneurship research was originally developed by economists who presented the role of the entrepreneur in economic growth and innovation (Schumpeter, 1934; Baumol, 1968). Early research was primarily prescriptive as writers offered their evaluation of and practical suggestions for the entrepreneurial processes based upon their observation of small business owners (Hornaday, 1982). These writers seldom considered research questions nor suggested ones for other researchers to consider. It was not until the early 1970s that a more diverse group of academic researchers began to study the topic of entrepreneurship (Vesper, 1982). This group consisted primarily of academics whose interest was more directed toward teaching entrepreneurship and providing consulting services to small business than conducting well-designed research studies or the development of theories of entrepreneurship. This lack of interest and often lack of research skills resulted in research studies that suffered in comparison to those by other academics that focused on more traditional business topics (Sexton, 1982).

It was not until entrepreneurship caught the attention of more traditional academic researchers that the level of research methodologies began to improve significantly and initial attempts at theory development began in earnest. More about the current status of entrepreneurial research will be discussed later.

The evolution of family business researchers has much in common with that of entrepreneurship researchers. The initial writers on the subject of family business were consultants to family businesses. Frequently they were financial advisers or family therapists (Lansberg, Perrow, & Rogolsky, 1988). They wrote of their observations and suggested ways in which family businesses could avoid some of the pitfalls that the authors had observed occurring to their clients. This prescriptive approach is almost identical with that of 1950 and 1960 entrepreneurship research. The majority of current family business articles are currently of this type (Swartz, 1989). Similarly, there are many articles that stated the contributions of family businesses to the GNP and to employment much as entrepreneurship and small business writers have done and continue to do.

Overview of Research Weaknesses

Problems inherent in the earlier studies of entrepreneurship continue to challenge current entrepreneurship and family business researchers (Churchill, 1992). Such problems include a lack of secondary data sources forcing researchers to conduct field research studies. Field studies, in turn, are difficult to achieve because of the entrepreneurs' and family business owners' disinterest in participating in such studies; the wide spectrum of "entrepreneurs" and family businesses; the lack of theories for hypothesis testing; and the lack of commonly accepted definitions of an entrepreneur or a family business.

Donald Sexton has been responsible for convening three conferences on the state-of-the-art of entrepreneurship research. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Entrepreneurship and Family Business Research: Comparisons, Critique, and Lessons
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.