Sources of Heterogeneity in Family Firms: An Introduction


  • Jess H. Chua,

  • James J. Chrisman,

  • Lloyd P. Steier,

  • Sabine B. Rau

Please send correspondence to: Jess H. Chua, tel.: (403) 220-6331; e-mail:, to James J. Chrisman at, to Lloyd P. Steier at, and to Sabine B. Rau at


Family business researchers have devoted substantial attention to comparing family firms with nonfamily firms. Many of these comparisons rely on dichotomous variables, which implicitly treat family firms as homogeneous entities. However, recent studies have started to use moderators and mediators as well as continuous measures of family involvement in recognition of the heterogeneity of family firms. The articles and commentaries in this special issue contribute to a better understanding of that heterogeneity by examining how vision and goals, as well as the discretion engendered by family control, influence the innovation, internationalization, succession, professionalization, and proactive stakeholder engagement of family enterprises.