Entrepreneurship as Radical Change in the Family Business: Exploring the Role of Cultural Patterns


  • The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of the guest editor, Pannikos Zata Poutziouris, and two anonymous referees. In addition, we would like to thank the Carl-Olof and Jenz Hamrin Foundation for funding the research on which this article is based.


This article explores the relationship between organizational culture and the entrepreneurial process that is viewed as radical change in the context of the family business. Drawing on results from two in-depth family business case studies, the authors develop a conceptual model for understanding organizational culture and its impact on entrepreneurial activities. The model is built around the extent to which the culture is connected to one dominant family member or several family members, the degree of cultural explicitness, and the degree of cultural openness. It is argued that whereas some cultural patterns tend to preserve the traditional way of doing business, others tend to facilitate entrepreneurial change. The conclusion is that to support entrepreneurial processes, managers need to foster a process of high-order learning in which old cultural patterns are continuously questioned and changed. To accomplish this, the organizational culture needs to be highly explicit and open.