The Work Package 4 of EM4FIT Project analyses the agents of entrepreneurship, innovation and talent in historical perspective. Our purpose in this package is to draw attention to the critical role played by institutional and cultural context in entrepreneurship, as well as the impact of social embeddedness in fostering and expanding innovation. Our core argument is that entrepreneurship is not just an individual activity, rather it is influenced by business environments and heavily dependent on social networks and modes of cooperation.
In the course of this secondment, I elaborate a working hypothesis to analyse these research topics. I begin by describing the theoretical framework of the research and conducting a literature review. Then, I identify two topics for the project´s research agenda:
• Innovation and Ownership. Innovation, as a topic of academic research, has drawn the attention of numerous scholars in myriad disciplines during the last decades. Nevertheless, some questions remain unanswered, such as the debate on firm ownership structure and how this factor could influence the nature of entrepreneurship and innovation. Specifically, I point to the study of innovation in the family business, as an emerging topic of research. It is important to note that family firms make up more than 60% of all companies in Europe (European Comission). They constitute the backbone of the European business landscape. Existing literature highlights that family business deals with innovation in a specific way (Rondi et. al, 2019; Hu et al., 2022). For example, a study conducted by Alfredo De Massis, Federico Frattini, Ulrich Lichtenthaler (2012) revealed that family involvement has direct effects on innovation inputs, activities and outputs; and moderating impacts on the relation among these different stages of technological innovation. Our research agenda will study whether family firms have specific channels and policies to develop innovation, providing a better understanding of the tension between tradition and innovation in the predominant type of business ownership structure.
• The origins of Innovation and Technology as a Management Discipline. Our research agenda draws on the analysis of innovation and technology as academic fields at business schools. When did this phenomenon begin and why? Our initial hypothesis is that both fields have been always central in business schools, initially approached from an engineering perspective that progressively transformed into a general management education point of view. However, more information on this transformation is needed to understand the potential contribution of business schools to boost innovation – not only technical innovation – through various courses and channels (i.e. networks). We must also not lose sight of the national particularities of the institutionalization of these academic fields within American and European business schools.
Author: María Fernández Moya
De Massis, A; Frattini, F.; Lichtenthaler, U. (2012). Research on Technological Innovation in Family Firms: Present Debates and Future Directions. Family Business Review, vol. 26 (1): 10-31.
Hu, Q.; Hughes, M.; Hughes, P. (2022). Family-unique resources, marketing resources, and family owners’ willingness to pursue radical innovation: A model and test. Journal of Business Research, vol. 146: 264-276.