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Generational and cultural indicators of technology and innovation in family business

posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Dianne Waddell
The internet revolution has affected everybody in some way. Technologies used in business range from telephones to industry-specific machinery. Mostly though, business technology has come to mean the internet. In literature concerning innovation and the adoption of technology in business, research invariably centres on small to medium businesses (SI'v1Es), as these can be defined reasonably easily. Statistics on family businesses are limited, however, because family businesses are so difficult to categorize and define.

The Australian Family Business Survey of 1993 (Institute of Chartered Accountants) determined that family business is the largest form of business ownership in Australia and represents 83% of all business enterprises, although Basu (2004) believes that over two thirds of all world-wide businesses are owned or managed by families and around half of all businesses in Australia are family businesses. The Australian Institute of Management (AIM) (2004) states that the wealth of family and private businesses is estimated at $3.6 trillion and that family firms generate 50 per cent of Australia's employment growth, account for 40 per cent of Australia's private sector output, and are a seed bed for innovation and the information of large companies.

The difficulty in defining a family business is heightened because family businesses can take many forms ranging from sole traders to private companies to public companies. Hence, when talking about family business, you could be referring to the sole trader dealing with organic produce to an IT organisation employing hundreds of staff. Basu (2004) thinks that while ordinarily, in non-family businesses, the business and family domains remain separate, the key distinctive characteristic of family businesses is that family members work together for economic purposes. In other words, the family is not merely a social unit but also an economic unit. Craig and Lindsay (2002) believe that family involvement in the business is what makes the family business different... researchers, however, cannot seem to agree as to what constitutes 'family involvement' in a business so that it can be defined as a family business and that family business is ... a business that is governed and/or managed with the intention to shape and pursue the vision of the business held by a dominant coalition that is controlled by members of the same family or a small number of families in a manner that is potentially sustainable across generations of the family or families.


Title of book

Managing the family business


169 - 181


Heidelberg Press

Place of publication

Heidelberg, Vic.







Publication classification

B1 Book chapter




L Glassop, D Waddell

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