Family Business in the UK: COVID-19 and Social Impact
23rd March 2021
The 2nd Family Business Research Workshop took place successfully online on 5th February 2021 with around 80 researchers and practitioners from the UK and internationally taking part. The event was organised jointly by the IFB Research Foundation and the Centre for Family Business at the University of Lancaster and focused on three key themes: COVID 19, social impact of family firms, and learning more about the priorities of family business researchers, identifying new areas for research. The programme for the event can be accessed here.
From Resilience to Resurgence: Insights for Family Business Leaders
The keynote presentation, From Resilience to Resurgence: Insights for Family Business Leaders, was made by Professor Mat Hughes, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Loughborough University.
The COVID 19 pandemic has shown that family businesses can be unusually resilient. Drawing on interviews with expert advisors, entrepreneurs, and scholars, Professor Hughes' talk explored why this is so and what properties and resources of family firms provide for their resilience.
A podcast of his presentation can be accessed here.
The slides from his presentation can be accessed here.
The other four speakers at the event focused on the social dynamics and impact of family firms.
Family Firm and Entrepreneurship Research
Professor Sarah Dodd (Professor of Entrepreneurship, the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, Strathclyde Business School) spoke on the topic of Family Firm and Entrepreneurship Research: Synergies, Sustainability and Strengths.
Entrepreneurship research is turning towards the more locally embedded and community-aware majority of small, independent firms. Family firm research has much to entrepreneurship, which is taking a clear turn towards the locally-embedded, sustainable, community-aware majority of independent firms. Stewardship theories, longer term planning, and the importance of socio-economic wealth all have much to offer entrepreneurship. Family firm scholars would also benefit from wider exposure to recent developments in entrepreneurship research, around household enterprise, community embeddedness, and studying non-economic resources.
Professor Dodd's presentation can be downloaded here.
During her presentation, Professor Dodd facilitated a brainstorming exercise, inviting participants to answer the question: What is Family Business Research for?.
What impact do family firms have on the Economy and Society?
Kiran Trehan (Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of York) spoke about the role of family firms in society, drawing on recent research on family firms and community engagement commissioned by the IFB Research Foundation.
Professor Trehan's presentation sought to highlight the ways family businesses contribute to the vitality, well-being, prosperity and sustainability of communities. Much is known about the contribution of family businesses to the UK economy, but less is known about the social and community impact of family firms. Yet three out of five UK family businesses state that their long-term goal is to contribute to the community and leave a positive legacy. Family Businesses are highly diverse and constitute the majority of firms in the global economy. As such, they generate a major contribution to social and economic wealth. So, what impact do family firms have on society and how do they engage with the communities they belong to?
Professor Trehan's presentation can be accessed here.
External Family Social Capital
Sam Appleton, PhD researcher at the University of Leeds, shared learning from his doctoral research on social capital among family firms in the UK. Sam's presentation introduced the concept of external family social capital using examples from rural family farms. External family social capital is a resource derived from the family relations with customers and employees. This helps family owners interpret change and is strategically renewed by next generation family members. Next generation family members renew external family social capital in the acquisition of outside experience.
Sam's presentation on family social capital can be accessed here.
How Family Businesses can Respond to the Pandemic
Dr Dennis Jaffe (Wise Counsel Institute, San Francisco) spoke about how business families and family businesses can effectively respond to crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Resilience in practice means responding with collaboration, listening, sharing and openness, enabling family businesses to bounce back more effectively after a crisis.
Notes for Dr Jaffe's presentation are included here. This includes some helpful include advice on coping strategies in the current crisis.
A summary of Dennis' book on 100 year family enterprises can be accessed here.