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Dynasties of innovation: highly performing German family firms and the owners' role for innovation
by Marc-Michael H. Bergfeld, Felix-Michael Weber
International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management (IJEIM), Vol. 13, No. 1, 2011
Abstract: At least 70% of all large and old German corporations are still controlled by the owning families. Studies have found that these firms can be successful in adapting to changing environments and innovating in a sustainable way over more than 100 years. Innovative dynasties outperform publicly listed companies. This paper looks at the owning families' influence on the innovativeness of their companies. In qualitative interviews, it investigates the innovative behaviour of dynastic families across generations: their attitude towards innovation, their time-orientation herein and their approaches to ensure innovativeness in their firms over the mid- to long-term. In summary, successful dynastic families define innovation as the ability to constantly address new markets and technologies, based on a clear long-term strategy. The owning families assure constant incremental innovation in daily operations and, even more importantly, initiate radical innovations and corporate renewal as strategy-setting entities 'behind the scenes'.
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