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R&D Investments in Family Firms: A Perspective of Swedish Family Firms
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School.
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Problem: Several extant studies argue that family firm tend to invest less or even tend to avoidR&D investments, yet R&D investments are essential for sustaining competitive advantage of afirm as they facilitate innovation. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances family firms couldalso prefer R&D investments. Departing from these knowledge and drawing upon resource-basedview & dynamic capabilities concepts, this thesis will explore how family firms perceive R&Dinvestments, furthermore, it will investigate factors influencing R&D investments in family firmsthrough an in-depth qualitative approach.

Purpose: To explore how family firms perceive R&D investments in the first place by utilizingSwedish family firms as the context which is aimed to provide a new viewpoint on R&Dinvestments in family firms from an in-depth approach. Furthermore, the study extends toinvestigate factors which have influence on whether or not family firms undertake R&Dinvestments

Method: The study applies multiple case studies strategy with six cases in total and eightrespondents. To support the study, semi-structured interview is used to collect the data, inaddition to researcher's note. The analysis of empirical findings comprises of two parts, firstly,the empirical findings are presented per case which are followed by the summary of findings fromall cases at the end based on the theoretical lenses. Afterward, a cross-case analysis is conductedto observe emerging patterns which are used to further adapt the preliminary conceptualframework made from frame of references.

Conclusions: Family firms according to their views on R&D could be divided into two groups.The first group consists of the firms without a dedicated R&D focus or firms that perceive R&D asembedded activity, while the latter is the firms with dedicated R&D focus. According to the waysthey perceive R&D, they subsequently put different emphasis on R&D investments. The firstgroup is rather reactive toward R&D, while the latter group is more proactive. These differencescould be explained by the internal and external influences (factors) which are found through theuse of resource-based view and dynamic capabilities. The internal factors are specialization,organizational culture and family history, while the external ones are trends and competition.Trends and specialization are found in almost all cases, and they explain the early engagement(without dedicated focus) of R&D in the firms. However, unlike trends, specialization mightpotentially lead to negative propensity toward R&D investments because of the competitiveadvantage gained from being specialized and knowledgeable in certain area. However, whencompetition comes into play, it might shift the circumstance by encouraging the firm to leave its“comfort zone”, thus would encourage R&D endeavors, in particular R&D investments especiallywhen the firm aims to lead in the market. Meanwhile, organizational culture could also be acatalyst for firms to focus on R&D, but it is very dependent on the culture instilled in the firmwhether or not it would encourage R&D. Firms with risk aversion, as suggested by literature andalso found in one of the cases would distance the firm from R&D investments. On the other hand,firms that show continuous learning and failure tolerating within their culture tend to put morefocus on R&D. And the last one, family history, which is found in three cases suggest a positiveinfluence toward R&D investments. The inventive behavior of the founder or former generationsis implanted in the family history, and being preserved by the current generations as corporateidentity or guiding values, of which contribute positively toward R&D investments in the firm.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 61 p.
Keyword [en]
research & development investments, family firms, resource-based view, dynamic capabilities, swedish
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-31078ISRN: JU-IHH-FÖA-2-20160293OAI: diva2:947341
Subject / course
IHH, Business Administration
2016-05-28, Jönköping, 14:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-07-08 Created: 2016-07-07 Last updated: 2016-07-08Bibliographically approved

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