, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 919–951 | Cite as

Bibliometric study of family business succession between 1939 and 2017: mapping and analyzing authors’ networks

  • Luis CisnerosEmail author
  • Mihai Ibanescu
  • Christian Keen
  • Odette Lobato-Calleros
  • Juan Niebla-Zatarain


This study maps and analyzes the scientific research networks of family business succession. We examine coauthors’ activities in terms of not only productivity but also their importance to the coauthorship network. The most influential contributors and universities, as well as their research networks and theoretical underpinnings, are discussed. The review examines 661 articles published by 1105 authors in 224 academic journals indexed in the Social Science Citation Index and Scopus between 1939 and 2017. We used a bibliometric approach based on coauthorship analysis to measure cooperation. The results show that family business succession research is characterized by high fragmentation in the authors’ collaboration in general, but the leading scholars are strongly interconnected. We map and analyze the most influential networks by identifying the most important topics studied, the theoretical and methodological approaches employed, the scope of the research conducted, and where it has been published. Most of the identified networks are in North America and Europe, and most are not theoretically or methodologically specialized.


Family business succession Bibliometric study Coauthorship Network analysis Scholar networks 



The authors would like to thank the students and researchers (Catherine S. Beaucage, Charles Boustany, Naïma Cherchem, Ruxandra Ionita, Claudia Angélica Rodríguez Hernández) for their contribution to this research.


  1. Acedo, F. J., Barroso, C., Casanueva, C., & Galan, J. L. (2006). Co-authorship in management and organizational studies: An empirical and network analysis. Journal of Management Studies, 43(1), 957–983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aleixandre, J. L., Aleixandre-Tudó, J. L., Bolaños-Pizarro, M., & Aleixandre-Benavent, R. (2015). Global trends in scientific production in enology and viticulture in selected emerging economies (BRIC). Scientometrics, 103(2), 649–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allouche, J., Amann, B., Jaussaud, J., & Kurashina, T. (2008). The impact of family control on the performance and financial characteristics of family versus nonfamily businesses in Japan: A matched-pair investigation. Family Business Review, 21(1), 315–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Applegate, J. (1994). Keep your firm in the family. Money, 23, 88–91.Google Scholar
  5. Aragón-Amonarriz, C., Arredondo, A. M., & Iturrioz-Landart, C. J. (2017). How can responsible family ownership be sustained across generations? A family social capital approach. Journal of Business Ethics. Scholar
  6. Ayres, G. R. (1990). Rough family justice: Equity in family business succession planning. Family Business Review, 3(1), 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barnett, A. H., Ault, R. W., & Kaserman, D. L. (1988). The rising incidence of co-authorship in economics: Further evidence. Review of Economics and Statistics, 70(3), 539–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benavides-Velasco, C., Quintana-García, C., & Guzmán-Parra, V. (2013). Trends in family business research. Small Business Economics, 40(1), 41–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brockhaus, R. H. (2004). Family business succession: Suggestions for future research. Family Business Review, 17(1), 165–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cabrera-Suarez, K. (2005). Leadership transfer and the successor's development in the family firm. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(1), 71–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Casillas, J., & Acedo, F. (2007). Evolution of the intellectual structure of family business literature: A bibliometric study of FBR. Family Business Review, 20(1), 141–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chalus-Sauvannet, M.-C., Deschamps, B., & Cisneros, L. (2016). Unexpected succession: When children return to take over the family business. Journal of Small Business Management, 54(2), 714–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chrisman, J. J., Chua, J. H., & Sharma, P. (1998). Important attributes of successors in family businesses: An exploratory study. Family Business Review, 11, 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cisneros, L., & Deschamps, B. (2015). The role of advisors and the sequence of their actions in sibling team succession. M@n@gement, 18(4), 282–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cohen, A., & Sharma, P. (2016). Entrepreneurs in every generation: How successful family businesses develop their next leaders. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Daspit, J. J., Holt, D. T., Chrisman, J. J., & Long, R. G. (2016). Examining family firm succession from a social exchange perspective: A multiphase, multistakeholder review. Family Business Review, 29(1), 44–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Massis, A., Chua, J. H., & Chrisman, J. (2008). Factors preventing intra-family succession. Family Business Review, 21(2), 183–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Debicki, B., Matherne, C., Kellermanns, F., & Chrisman, J. (2009). Family business research in the new millennium. Family Business Review, 22(1), 151–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Drozdow, N. (1986). Managing relationships in the family business. Agency Sales Magazine, 16(10), 35–39.Google Scholar
  20. Evert, R. E., Martin, J. A., McLeod, M. S., & Payne, G. T. (2016). Empirics in family business research: Progress, challenges, and the path ahead. Family Business Review, 29(1), 17–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Finardi, U., & Buratti, A. (2016). Scientific collaboration framework of BRICS countries: An analysis of international co-authorship. Scientometrics, 109(1), 433–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gersick, K., Davis, J., McCollon Hampton, M., & Lansberg, I. (1997). Generation to generation: Life cycles of the family business. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gomez-Mejia, L., Nuñez-Nickel, M., & Gutierrez, I. (2001). The role of family ties in agency contracts. The Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), 81–95.Google Scholar
  24. Handler, W. C. (1990). Succession in family firms: A mutual role adjustment between entrepreneur and next generation family members. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 15(1), 37–51.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Handler, W. C. (1994). Succession in family businesses: A review of the research. Family Business Review, 7(2), 133–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Handler, W. C., & Kram, K. E. (1988). Succession in family firms: The problem of resistance. Family Business Review, 1(4), 361–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holt, D. T., Rutherford, M. W., & Kuratko, D. F. (2010). Advancing the field of family business research: Further testing the measurement properties of the F-PEC. Family Business Review, 23(1), 76–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hoy, F., & Sharma, P. (2009). Entrepreneurial family firms. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  29. Ibanescu, M., Cisneros, L., Lobato, O. Niebla, J., & Cherchem, N. (2016). An overview of family business succession research: A bibliometric study. The 12th Annual Family Enterprise Research Conference, June 2–4, Fundação Dom Cabral, Nova Lima (Mg) – Brazil.Google Scholar
  30. Jaskiewicz, P., Combs, J. G., & Rau, S. B. (2015). Entrepreneurial legacy: Toward a theory of how some family firms nurture transgenerational entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 30(1), 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kets de Vries, M. F. R. (1993). The dynamics of family controlled firms: The good and the bad news. Organizational Dynamics, 21(3), 59–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Laband, D. N. (1985). Publishing favouritism: A critique of department rankings based on quantitative publishing performance. Southern Economic Journal, 52(2), 510–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Laband, D. N., & Tollison, R. D. (2000). Intellectual collaboration. Journal of Political Economy, 108(3), 632–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lam, W. (2011). Dancing to two tunes: Multi-entity roles in the family business succession process. International Small Business Journal, 29(5), 508–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lansberg, I. (1988). The succession conspiracy. Family Business Review, 1(2), 119–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lansberg, I. (1999). Succeeding generations: Realizing the dream of families in business. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lansberg, I., & Astrachan, J. H. (1994). Influence of family relationships on succession planning and training: The importance of mediating factors. Family Business Review, 7(1), 39–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Le Breton-Miller, I., Miller, D., & Steier, I. (2004). Toward an integrative model of effective FOB succession. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 28(1), 305–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Le Play, M. F. (1871). L’organisation de la famille. Paris: Alfred Mame et fils, Libraires-Editeurs.Google Scholar
  41. Long, R. G., & Chrisman, J. J. (2014). Management succession in family business. In L. Melin, M. Nordqvist, & P. Sharma (Eds.), SAGE handbook of family business. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  42. Lowrie, A., & McKnight, P. J. (2004). Academic research networks: A key to enhancing scholarly standing. European Management Journal, 22(4), 345–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Luo, J. D. (2005). Social network structure and performance of improvement teams. International Journal of Business Performance Management, 7(2), 208–223.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McDowell, J. M., & Amacher, R. C. (1986). Economic value of an in-house editorship. Public Choice, 48(2), 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Melin, G., & Persson, O. (1996). Studying research collaboration using co-authorships. Scientometrics, 36(3), 363–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Michel, A., & Kammerlander, N. (2015). Trusted advisors in a family business’s succession-planning process—an agency perspective. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 6(1), 45–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Miller, D., Steier, L., & Le Breton-Miller, I. (2003). Lost in time: Intergenerational succession, change, and failure in family business. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(4), 513–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moody, J. (2004). The structure of a social science collaboration network: Disciplinary cohesion from 1963 to 1999. American Sociological Review, 69(1), 213–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nordqvist, M., Wennberg, K., Baù, M., & Hellerstedt, K. (2013). An entrepreneurial process perspective on succession in family firms. Small Business Economics, 40(4), 1087–1122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Piette, M. J., & Ross, K. L. (1992). A study of the publication of scholarly output in economics journals. Eastern Economic Journal, 18(4), 429–436.Google Scholar
  51. Ramos-Rodriguez, A., & Ruiz-Navarro, J. (2004). Changes in the intellectual structure of strategic management research: A bibliometric study of the strategic management journal, 1980–2000. Strategic Management Journal, 25(10), 981–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rashman, L., Withers, E., & Hartley, J. (2009). Organizational learning and knowledge in public service organizations: A systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 11(4), 463–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rutherford, M. W., Kuratko, D. F., & Holt, D. T. (2008). Examining the link between “familiness” and performance: Can the F-PEC untangle the family business theory jungle? Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 32(6), 1089–1109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Saggese, S., Sarto, F., & Cuccurullo, C. (2015). Evolution of the debate on control enhancing mechanisms: A systematic review and bibliometric analysis. International Journal of Management Reviews, 18(4), 417–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sarto, F., Cuccurullo, C., & Aria, M. (2014). Exploring healthcare governance literature: Systematic review and paths for future research. MECOSAN, 23(1), 61–80.Google Scholar
  56. Sharma, P. (2004). An overview of the field of family business studies: Current status and directions for the future. Family Business Review, 17(1), 1–36.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sharma, P., Chrisman, J. J., & Chua, J. H. (1997). Strategic management of the family business: Past research and future challenges. Family Business Review, 10(1), 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sharma, P., Chrisman, J. J., & Gersick, K. E. (2012). 25 years of family business review: Reflections on the past and perspectives for the future. Family Business Review, 25(1), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sharma, P., Chrisman, J. J., Pablo, A., & Chua, J. H. (2001). Determinants of initial satisfaction with the succession process in family firms: A conceptual model. International Association for Business and Society. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 25(3), 17–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sharma, P., Chua, J. H., & Chrisman, J. J. (2000). Perceptions about the extent of succession planning in Canadian family firms. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 17(3), 233–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sharma, P., Hoy, F., Astrachan, J. H., & Koiranen, M. (2007). The practice driven evolution of family business education. Journal of Business Research, 60, 1012–1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sonnenfeld, J. A., & Spence, P. L. (1989). The parting patriarch of a family firm. Family Business Review, 2(4), 355–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stern, M. H. (1986). Inside the family-held business: A practical guide for entrepreneurs and their advisors. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  64. Strike, V. M. (2012). Advising the family firm: Reviewing the past to build the future. Family Business Review, 25(2), 156–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Subramanyam, K. (1983). Bibliometric studies of research collaboration: A review. Journal of Information Science, 6(1), 33–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Swagger, G. (1991). Assessing the successor generation in family businesses. Family Business Review, 4(4), 397–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tagiuri, R., & Davis, J. A. (1992). On the goals of successful family companies. Family Business Review, 5, 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tatoglu, E., Kula, V., & Glaister, K. W. (2008). Succession planning in family-owned businesses: Evidence from Turkey. International Small Business Journal, 26, 155–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Van der Leij, M., & Goyal, S. (2006). Strong ties in a small world. Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 2006-008/1. Accessed 20 May 2018.
  70. Ward, J. L. (1987). Keeping the family business healthy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  71. Ward, J. L., & Handy, J. L. (1988). A survey of board practices. Family Business Review, 1, 289–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Xi, J., Kraus, S., Filser, M., & Kellermanns, F. W. (2015). Mapping the field of family business research: Past trends and future directions. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 11(1), 113–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Yoshikane, F., Nozawa, T., Shibui, S., & Suzukid, T. (2009). An analysis of the connection between researchers’ productivity and their co-authors’ past attributions, including the importance in collaboration networks. Scientometrics, 79(2), 435–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yoshikane, F., Nozawa, T., & Tsuji, K. (2006). Comparative analysis of co-authorship networks considering authors’ roles in collaboration: Differences between the theoretical and application areas. Scientometrics, 68(3), 643–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zellweger, T. M., Nason, R. S., & Nordqvist, M. (2012). From longevity of firms to transgenerational entrepreneurship of families: Introducing family entrepreneurial orientation. Family Business Review, 25(2), 136–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zhai, Q., Su, J., & Ye, M. (2014). Focus on China: The current status of entrepreneurship research in China. Scientometrics, 98(3), 1985–2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HEC MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.McGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Universidad IberoamericanaCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  4. 4.Universidad Autónoma de OccidenteCuliacánMexico

Personalised recommendations