IFERA 2014 Annual Conference Call for Papers

"Co-operation Within and Amongst Family Businesses"


The International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA) and the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) invite you to participate in the IFERA 2014 Annual Conference .  This global conference will take place in the beautiful town of Lappeenranta, located in South-Eastern Finland on the shores of the country’s largest lake, from June 24 – 27, 2014.  

 The purpose of the conference is to advance family business scholarship by (1) serving as a platform for presentation of carefully crafted contributions seeking to find home in top-tier academic journals, (2) advancement of papers that need further development in order to make a meaningful contribution, (3) testing of new ideas and plans that will benefit of advice from other members of the IFERA family and our distinguished quests, and (4) raising of new and relevant questions concerning family business.

 Highlighting the role of IFERA as a bridge between intellectual framings and praxis of family business, the annual conference brings together business families and scholars to identify and advance best practices in the family business. Policy issues are not ignored either. Finally, with the IFERA tradition of having fun, the conference provides an inspiring and a unique atmosphere for networking, bonding, and exchanging ideas.


We are proud to announce two renowned scholars as keynote speakers for the IFERA 2014 Annual Conference, who will share their valuable insights and suggest avenues for future research on the conference theme.

-       Professor Theodore N. Greenstein (North Carolina State University)

-       Professor Michael Pratt (Boston College)


The Conference invites papers on all aspects of family business research, including but not limited to succession, leadership and governance, entrepreneurship, strategy, family relationships, emotions, family psychology and sociology, economics, finance, and accounting, as well as issues that lie at the intersection of these and other interrelated disciplines. All theoretical and methodological approaches are welcome as we advance the field in a truly multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, rigorous, reflexive, and critical fashion. In addition, we invite papers that speak directly to the selected conference theme of “Co-operation within and amongst Family Businesses.” 

 The Family System and Co-operation

In order to ensure survival and growth over time, family members from various generations must learn how to co-operate with each other. Thereby, a question worth asking is: What practices have business families adopted in order to secure efficient and effective co-operation within them? Further, what are the mechanisms through which within family co-operation operates and what are the key constructs and theories we should use to understand and employ to develop co-operation within business families? Do families which develop processes of co-operation in the family system transfer this knowledge and practices to their businesses? Does the family context make a difference as we make use of, for example, theories of social action or social exchange?

 Co-operation within the Business System

As family business integrates two systems, the family and the business, another interesting question is: How do family businesses secure and develop co-operation with non-family stakeholders? What are the characteristics of family businesses and their environment that make them more or less attentive to stakeholder interests and why? Are there particular principles that guide family businesses in their decision-making concerning certain stakeholders (e.g., employees, local community)? How do the stakeholders themselves view family businesses as collaborators or potential collaborators? Is there something about businesses in which family is more involved than those in which it is less involved that helps or hampers co-operation?

 Co-operation as a Strategy and Co-operation between Family Businesses

Third, family businesses have typically been considered as having a desire for independence. On the other hand, different kind of collaborations have become more and more important over the past years and we often witness co-operation between family business groups in regional, international and global arenas. Thereby, an interesting question asks: What kinds of collaborations (informal, formal) have family businesses used to better their position in their fields of business? Are family businesses more inclined to co-operate with family businesses than with other corporations? What kinds of organization (company) forms have been adopted and why? Are there particular fields on which certain kind of arrangements have become popular and why? How have collaboration strategies and the governance of collaborations been shaped by family aspects? Are there collaborative arrangements amongst family businesses in particular and what role does the family firm identity and/or image play in those collaborations?

 Fundamentals of Co-operation

Finally, it has been recently suggested that the advancement of knowledge in the fields of family business and co-operation (as a particular company form and form of governance) would benefit of exchange of ideas. It has been considered that the principles and ideas of co-operation might prove helpful for example in the development of family business governance. The basic ideas of co-operation involve (1) voluntary association of persons and/or entities, (2) freedom with fellow members, (3) accountability to others, (4) joint ownership and democratic control with fellow members, (5) beneficiality of action, (6) fairness in distribution of economic value, and (7) expertise concerning the business at hand, the operation environment, and the company form (see Jussila, 2012*). These ideas have traditionally been used to organize and run co-operative form of collaboration between family businesses for example in the field of agriculture. Overarching the conference theme, the question here is: To what extent have business families adopted the co-operative ideas and principles to secure efficient and effective co-operation and in what ways could family businesses benefit from the use of them?


Noteworthy, contributions that address the conference theme in some meaningful way will be considered for a Special Issue in a new Elsevier journal, the Journal of Co-operative Organization and Management (JCOM*).   *  http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-co-operative-organization-and-management/

In addition, other best papers from the conference will be invited to submit their work to a Special Issue of Journal of Family Business Strategy, also an Elsevier journal and an IFERA partner.