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Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Journal of Family Business Strategy - Replication and Validation in Family Business Research

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Abstract

The family business field is growing rapidly. However, similar to most management disciplines we observe a general lack of efforts to replicate prior influential findings. In addition, the vast majority of propositions developed in qualitative theory-building studies or conceptual work are never empirically validated. We hope this dedicated special issue will provide an effective initial incentive for family business scholars to devote more time and attention to this critical part of conducting research. We warmly invite authors to submit their dedicated replication or validation study on family business. For questions potential authors are encouraged to contact managing guest-editor Jasper Brinkerink at Jasper.Brinkerink@unibz.it
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Call for Papers for a Special Issue of
Journal of Family Business Strategy
2018 Impact Factor: 3.225
2019 ABDC Journal Quality List: B
Replication and Validation in Family Business Research
Submission Deadline: January 31, 2021
Editorial Team:
Alfredo De Massis (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, & Lancaster University, UK)
Franz Kellermanns (University of North Carolina, US & WHU, Germany)
Mike Wright (Imperial College London, UK)
Jasper Brinkerink (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy)
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Overview
Over the first two decades of the twenty-first century, recognition of family business as a field of
both academic and practical significance has spread widely among scholars in related fields and
practitioners alike. This is demonstrated by the exponential growth of the body of high-quality
publications (López‐Fernández, Serrano‐Bedia, & Pérez‐Pérez, 2016), the increasing impact of
dedicated family business journals (e.g., FBR, JFBS), and the wider acceptance of family
business contributions in top-tier entrepreneurship, strategy, and general management journals
(e.g., König, Kammerlander, & Enders, 2013; Kotlar et al., 2018; Neckebrouck, Schulze, &
Zellweger, 2018). At the same time though, the academic world at large faces a deep credibility
crisis, where our discipline is no exception (Bergh et al., 2017; Harley, 2018; Honig et al., 2018).
In that light we address two related profound and systemic problems that characterize the
business and management sciences in general, and the family business literature in particular: a
lack of published efforts at replicating prior empirical findings (Bettis et al., 2016a; Mezias &
Regnier, 2007), and a lack of studies empirically validating highly-cited conceptual or theory-
building work (Hambrick, 2007; Whitfield, 2000).
First, the family business literature is characterized by a general lack of replications and
reproductions of influential previous empirical findings. Reproduction and replication of prior
work is crucial to ascertain the reliability of the cumulative knowledge stock future work will
build on (Bergh et al., 2017; Bettis, et al., 2016a, 2016b; Buman, Reed, & Alm, 2010). Certainly
compared to the natural sciences, where replication and reproduction of scientific work is much
more common, but also to our close neighbors in economics, the replication culture in business
and management is underdeveloped (Easley et al., 2013; Hubbard & De Vetter, 1996; Mezias &
Regnier, 2007, Wennberg et al., 2019), and the family business field is no exception. To testify
to the extent of this problem, to our best knowledge only one published replication of an
impactful empirical family business study exists to date Weismeier-Sammer’s (2011)
replication of Kellermanns and Eddleston (2006), published in this journal. In effect, in the
family business field we have a particularly strong tendency to build on empirical findings in a
few seminal studies, without further scrutinizing these findings with respect to, for instance, their
generalizability across temporal, industrial and geographical contexts, different populations of
firms, or with different and perhaps superior measurements and analytical techniques. While
more implicitly obvious in theory-building and qualitative research, also and perhaps
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especially the probabilistic logic underlying studies testing theory by estimating statistical
significance of predicted relationships requires the replication of findings to further reduce the
chances of pushing forward false positives and to increase the chances of detecting false
negatives (Buman et al., 2010; Ethiraj et al., 2016).
Second, an equally problematic tendency visible in the vast majority of business and
management disciplines pertains to the lack of efforts at validating published conceptual
arguments, which “means our field has an absurdly high ratio of ideas to tests of ideas [and
that we subsequently] suppose much more than we know” (Hambrick, 2007; p. 1350). As an
illustration, Whitfield (2000) found that only a meager 9 percent of propositions developed in
AMR arguably the most influential venue for new conceptual ideas in the broader management
discipline ever gets empirically tested. We observe a similar tendency in the family business
literature, where both purely conceptual works and inductively derived theoretical frameworks
often remain largely untested, yet do end up slipping in the assumptions and suppositions
underlying subsequent research. Whereas we do not deny in any way the importance of
conceptual developments, as a field we need to do a better job at putting theoretical ideas to
rigorous empirical scrutiny before incorporating them in our common understanding of the
nature and behavior of family firms and their incumbents.
The lack of replication and validation efforts in family business studies is however not
surprising, because high-impact strategy, management, entrepreneurship and family business
journals generally do not publish replication or validation studies and emphasize theoretical
novelty instead. Since the careers of (family) business scholars are increasingly dependent on
their publication record in such high-impact journals, these scholars are lacking incentives, or
worse, face disincentives to carry out replications or validations, as doing so may be perceived as
a waste of valuable time and resources (cf. Assendorpf et al., 2013; Harley, 2018; Mezias &
Regnier, 2007). In order to break this vicious circle, systemic changes are needed, as scholars
thus need to be incentivized to allocate their time and resources to the replication of prior
empirical findings, and the validation of published yet untested conceptual propositions. As such,
we follow recent examples set in neighboring fields (e.g., Bettis et al, 2016b; Block and
Kuckertz, 2018; Easley and Madden, 2013) and call upon the family business research
community to systematically consider the replication and validation of ‘taken-for-granted’ prior
outcomes and propositions as part of their research agenda. We aim to provide an initial
incentive with the organization of this special issue, which will be completely devoted to
rigorous replications of influential prior findings, and validations of often-cited conceptual and
inductive theory-building work in family business research.
Type of replication or validation studies we are looking for
Mezias & Regnier discuss the different forms of replication studies (2007, p. 288-9), ranging
from ‘narrow’ replications using the same research design and involving the same sample (i.e., to
check for errors and/or falsification) or a different sample from the same population (to check for
reliability of the findings), to ‘quasi’-replications using the same or a different research design in
a different population (to generalize across populations and/or assess robustness of prior work).
While we acknowledge the value of the very ‘narrowest’ form of replication (i.e., reproductions),
we are particularly interested in receiving replications that extend the focal prior family business
study of interest, in terms of, for instance:
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1. The data used and its properties, e.g.:
a. Papers using the same sample in a different time frame or with repeated measures
(i.e., in case the replicated study used cross-sectional data)
b. Papers using the same sample with significantly (and demonstrably) better
measures
c. Papers using a different sample from the same population
d. Papers using a sample from a different population (e.g., original studies using
public firm samples replicated in a private firm sample or vice versa)
2. The research design, specification and analytical procedures, e.g.:
a. Papers with demonstrably improved model specifications
b. Papers using more appropriate methods (quantitative or qualitative) compared to
the replicated study
c. Papers showing how prior results may have been contingent on important
moderator constructs omitted or ignored in the replicated study
In regards to replication studies, we strongly advise potential contributors to consult and follow
the core guiding principles brought forward by Block and Kuckertz (2018) in identifying the
study to be replicated and in designing their replication strategy.
As for the validation of prior under- or un-tested theoretical propositions on the other hand,
authors may for instance seek to:
1. Fully or partially validate the model developed in a previously published conceptual
or theoretical study in family business, using a qualitative or statistical
methodological approach that best fits the nature of the proposed model
2. Test the theory developed in an inductive and/or qualitative theory-building family
business study using robust quantitative methodology
3. Identify an influential theoretical or conceptual study published outside yet often
built upon in the family business field, and assess its validity in the context of
family enterprises
Of course, this list of ideas is not exhaustive and we encourage potential contributors with ideas
for replication or validation formats not included above to contact the guest editors in advance to
discuss the fit of their ideas with the special issue.
Requirements
We welcome replications of both quantitative and qualitative influential empirical work, as well
as validations of inductively or conceptually derived propositions in family business, published
in peer-reviewed business, management or economics journals. Here we define ‘influential’ as
follows: papers older than 5 years (i.e., published in 2014 or earlier) with a minimum of 100
Google Scholar-citations, or, alternatively, papers published within the past 5 years that have
received at least 10 Google Scholar-citations per year published (i.e., 10 for papers published in
2019, 20 for papers published in 2018, …, 50 for papers published in 2015). We expect authors
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to include an up-to-date review of literature relevant to the topic of the replication study, in
which authors may depart from a brief description of the replicated or validated study (including
its purpose, theoretical foundations, as well as methodology and research findings in case of
replications), and succinctly outline the influence that the replicated or validated study has
achieved and maintained since its publication. Papers should furthermore clearly discuss what
the aim and nature of their replication or validation is. Replications and validations may either
confirm or disconfirm the results obtained in the replicated study, or the propositions brought
forward in the validated study. Given that we are not looking for strict reproductions,
disconfirmation however will not mean that the replicated or validated work should be portrayed
as ‘wrong’. Rather, we expect authors whose work generates substantially different insights
compared to the replicated or validated prior study to discuss potential reasons for the found
deviations, as well as any implications for theory and future work, thereby not neglecting the
notion that also their study likely has drawbacks. Finally, authors should be very transparent in
describing the research procedure taken, such that also their work can be replicated with relative
ease (Aguinis, Ramani, & Alabduljader, 2018). In that regard, we strongly encourage authors of
manuscripts to guarantee open access to all materials used in conducting the replication or
validation study (e.g., data, syntax, software, coding schemes) upon potential publication see
for suggestions https://www.elsevier.com/authors/author-resources/research-data.
Procedure
The deadline for all submissions is January 31, 2021. All submitted manuscripts will follow the
standard JFBS double-blind peer review process, in which reviewers will however be informed
about the purpose of the special issue i.e., replication or validation rather than theory
development and instructed to adjust their review approach in accordance. All articles for this
Special Issue must be submitted online via the EVISE system at
https://www.evise.com/evise/jrnl/JFBS. Submissions should follow the manuscript guidelines of
JFBS available from this same link (see the ‘Guide for Authors’ link at the top of the page).
Authors should clearly indicate in their cover letter that the manuscript is for the Special Issue
REPLICATION” and choose “SI-REPLICATION” as article type upon submission.
Important Dates
Submission window opens: August 1, 2020
Manuscripts due by: January 31, 2021
Tentative publication of the Special Issue: January 2022
Contact
For questions on this special issue, please contact the managing guest editor, Jasper Brinkerink,
at Jasper.Brinkerink@unibz.it
About the Journal
Journal of Family Business Strategy (JFBS) publishes research that contributes new knowledge
and understanding to the field of family business. The Journal is interdisciplinary and
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international in scope and welcomes submissions that address all aspects of how family
influences business and business influences family. JFBS publishes quantitative research as well
as qualitative work and purely theoretical or conceptual papers. Further details on JFBS can be
obtained from http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jfbs or by contacting the Editor-in-Chief, Torsten
Pieper, via tpieper@uncc.edu.
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Theory-Testing Entrepreneurship Research. Journal of Business Venturing, 34(5), doi:
10.1016/j.jbusvent.2019.02.001
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