Small Business Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 77–94 | Cite as

Exploring alternative strategic management paradigms in high-growth ethnic and non-ethnic family firms

  • Ajay Bhalla
  • Joseph Lampel
  • Steven Henderson
  • David Watkins


The primary research question examined in this paper is whether ethnic and non-ethnic family firms in the United Kingdom differ in their strategy-making. The paper uses the typology of strategic decision-making produced by Whittington [(1993). What is strategy: and does it matter? New York: Routledge] to derive contrasting predictions of strategy-making by ethnic versus non-ethnic firms. Drawing on a questionnaire study of 76 high-growth family firms, and subsequent in-depth fieldwork with 40 of these, the findings show that the ethnic origin of the controlling family has a significant influence in determining the dominance of a particular strategy paradigm. However, successful high-growth family firms are not associated with any particular school of strategy. The influence of family bonding on strategy-making was greater in ethnic family firms than non-ethnic family firms. The advent of the second generation of South Asians in family firms, and closer integration of immigrant and host communities, has not altered these apparent differences. The findings challenge researchers on family firms to adopt a multiple perspective approach to strategy-making.


Family firms SMEs Ethnicity Strategy 

JEL Classifications

M13 L26 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ajay Bhalla
    • 1
  • Joseph Lampel
    • 1
  • Steven Henderson
    • 2
  • David Watkins
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of ManagementCass Business SchoolLondonUK
  2. 2.Faculty of ManagementSouthampton Business SchoolSouthamptonUK

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