International Family Business Research Forum

Researching the Family Business



During the last years, the WIFU International Family Business Research Forum has provided a unique platform for developing family business research in a structured, stimulating, challenging and friendly environment.

The interest in family businesses as an autonomous academic research topic has grown tremendously in recent years, mostly motivated by the family business prevalence worldwide and the increasing number of institutions acknowledging the importance and need to get a further understanding on family businesses actors and arenas. Despite family business studies have advanced significantly during the past decade, research still largely focuses on a limited number of topics and theory development requires ongoing attention. Although the discipline is progressing in terms of theory building, it still lacks a systematic adoption of theoretically‐based frameworks.


The aim of the International Family Business Research Forum is to try to reconcile the interplay of negative and positive views within and between the family and the business system. In this way, future research should aim to better explain when the positives and negatives are likely to occur, and under what conditions. The Forum aims to address questions such as::

  • What are the underlying unexpressed research problems that may help to move the field one step further while considering both the business family and family firm perspective?
  • What kind of theories should we use to explain the behaviour and identity of business families and family businesses?
  • How can we capture the heterogeneity of business families and family businesses?
  • Which new methods should we explore?
  • Which are the contributions we should disseminate among family owners, managers and business families?


Therefore, we invite submissions from the international family firm research community, to discuss together the state of the art of the research on family firms and have the opportunity to collect feedback and insights on how to develop the ideas presented in the Forum for leading international journals. We encourage international scholars – with particular attention to PhD Students and young researchers – to submit their ideas and works in progress at different stages. Given the developmental nature of the Forum, we encourage submissions of:

  • Research ideas/proposals/extended abstracts
  • Drafts of papers/full papers

The format of the Forum is highly interactive. All sessions are organized in plenary, and each paper/proposal has a formal discussant. The organizing team (based on external reviewers) provides feedback on the papers/proposals accepted for presentation at the Forum.

During the Forum, the following Best Paper Awards are granted, sponsored by the Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU) Foundation: Most Inspirational Paper and Best Contribution to Practice Paper. Both honours are awarded with € 1.000 each.

Upcoming Forum

This year’s Forum will take place in Austria at WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business from the 20th to the 23rd of September 2017.

  • 20th of September 2017
    7pm‐10pm: Welcome reception
  • 21st of September 2017
    9am‐6pm: Plenary sessions 1
    8pm‐10pm: Social dinner
  • 22nd of September 2017
    9am‐6pm: Plenary sessions 2
    8pm‐10pm: Social dinner
  • 23rd of September 2017
    Social program


  • 10th of May 2017: All submissions should be sent electronically to Prof. Dr. Andrea Calabrò.
  • 8th of June 2017: Authors will be notified on acceptance in order to arrange their travels.
  • 22nd of June 2017: The 3rd IFBRF team will also provide the accepted participants with a written feedback (based on one blind‐review process).
  • 24th of July 2017: Scholars are then invited to address and implement the suggestions in their work and send a revised version.

The official call for papers can be downloaded here.

Past Forums

  • 12th to 13th February 2015: 1st International Family Business Research Forum, Witten/Herdecke University, Co-host: Bocconi University
  • 15th to 17th September 2016: 2nd International Family Business Research Forum, Nepal and Capri (Italy), Co-hosts: Bocconi University, Nepal University