Introduction: Characterizing Family Owned Enterprises and Assessing Them on Criteria Such as Family Involvement, Size, Age, Longevity, Independence and Vitality

  • Laura K. C. Seibold
  • Maximilian Lantelme
  • Hermut Kormann


The first chapter introduces to the topic of German family firms by depicting the “German Pattern” of family businesses. The measurement of longevity, independence and vitality as well as the structure and goals of this collection are presented in the first chapter. This chapter concludes with the definition of family businesses and emphasizes the need for a size differentiation within research on family businesses.


Family business landscape Structure of family firms Size Family business pattern Definition of family firms 


  1. Becker, W., & Ulrich, P. (2009). Mittelstand, KMU und Familienunternehmen in der Betriebswirtschaftslehre [Small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs and family businesses in business administration]. Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Studium, 38, 2–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ehrhardt, O., Nowak, E., & Weber, F. M. (2006). Running in the family—The evolution of ownership, control, and performance in German family-owned firms 1903–2003 (Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper, 06–13).Google Scholar
  3. Europäische Union. (2003). EMPFEHLUNG DER KOMMISSION vom 6. Mai 2003 betreffend die Definition der Kleinstunternehmen sowie der kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen [COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises]. Amtsblatt der Europäischen Union, L 124/36.Google Scholar
  4. Gottschalk, S., Egeln, J., Kinne, J., Hauer, A., Keese, D., & Oehme, M. (2017). Die volkswirtschaftliche Bedeutung der Familienunternehmen [The economic importance of family enterprises]. ZEW-Gutachten und Forschungsberichte MünchenGoogle Scholar
  5. Handelsgesetzbuch. (2016). § 267 Umschreibung der Größenklassen [Description of size classes].Google Scholar
  6. Institut für Mittelstandsforschung. (2016). KMU-definition des IfM Bonn [SME definition of the IfM Bonn]. Retrieved from
  7. Littunen, H., & Hyrsky, K. (2000). The early entrepreneurial stage in Finish family and nonfamily firms. Family Business Review, 13(1), 41–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Litz, R. A. (1995). The family business: Toward definitional clarity. Family Business Review, 8(2), 71–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Miller, D., Le Breton-Miller, I., Lester, R. H., & Cannella, A. A., Jr. (2007). Are family firms really superior performers? Journal of Corporate Finance, 13(5), 829–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Miller, E. J., & Rice, A. K. (1967). Systems of organizations. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  11. St. Gallen Center for Family Business. (2018). Global Family Index. Retrieved from
  12. Upton, N., Vinton, K., Seaman, S., & Moore, C. (1993). Research note: Family business consultants—Who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Family Business Review, 6(3), 301–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Wortman, M. S. (1994). Theoretical foundations for family-owned business: A conceptual and research-based paradigm. Family Business Review, 7(1), 3–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura K. C. Seibold
    • 1
  • Maximilian Lantelme
    • 2
  • Hermut Kormann
    • 1
  1. 1.Zeppelin UniversityFriedrichshafenGermany
  2. 2.Accenture StrategyMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations