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Thriving family businesses in tourism and hospitality: A systematic review
and a synthesis of the relevant literature
By Mark Anthony Camilleri
and Marco Valeri
Suggested citation: Camilleri, M.A. & Valeri, M. (2021). Thriving family businesses in tourism and
hospitality: A systematic review and a synthesis of the relevant literature. Journal of Family Business
Management, hiips://www emerald com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JFBM-10-2021-0133
This is a prepublication version.
Purpose: This contribution appraises previous theoretical underpinnings that are focused on family
businesses in tourism and hospitality. It discusses about the opportunities and challenges for their
Method: A systematic literature review was carried out through peer reviewed publications that
were indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. It relied on the PRISMA protocol to evaluate rigorous
articles and reviews. A content analysis sheds light on high impact contributions on “family
business” and “tourism” or “hospitality”, that were published since 2010.
Findings: This bibliographic research captured, analyzed and synthesized the findings from
previous contributions to identify the factors that are facilitating the growth prospects, long term
sustainability and innovative approaches of family businesses within the tourism and hospitality
Originality: Currently, there are just a few contributions that advance relevant knowledge and
understanding on the business development of family firms in tourism and hospitality. This
research addresses this academic gap as these entities constitute the life blood of tourist
destinations in various contexts.
Keywords: tourism; hospitality; family businesses; enterprises; family enterprises; systematic review.
Department of Corporate Communication, University of Malta, Malta. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Economics, Niccolò Cusano University, Rome, Italy.
Small and medium sized businesses including family enterprises prevail in their
contribution to economic growth and competitiveness of tourist destinations (Getz and Carlsen,
2005; Kallmuenzer and Peters, 2018). Very often, they are resilient entities and proactive forces
in terms of innovation, employment and productivity. The family business is the oldest and the
most common model of a for-profit organization. Essentially, it is a commercial entity that is
usually owned, managed and led by multiple generations of a family members who are related by
blood, marriage or adoption. The owners of family firms have the ability to influence the vision of
their business and to formulate long term goals. They are usually involved in the organization,
leadership and management of their company. However, family firms may also be co-owned by
individuals who are not part of the family.
The Global Family Business Index defines a family firm as an entity that is controlled by
family as its members hold more than 50% of the voting rights. For a publicly listed firm, a firm
is classified as a family business if family members own at least 32% of the voting rights (OECD,
2021). Thus, the vast majority of businesses throughout the world, ranging from small shops to
multinational publicly listed organizations who have hundreds of thousands of employees — can
be considered family businesses.
In hospitality and tourism, a large number of small enterprises are run by family members
(Peters and Kallmuenzer, 2018; Getz and Carlsen, 2005; Getz and Carlsen, 2000) that are operating
in various sectors, ranging from hospitality, leisure, recreation and entertainment, among others.
Such enterprises are often described as “economic engines” of tourist destinations (Getz, Carlsen
and Morrison, 2004; Veloso et al., 2021) and play a critical role in the interface between
communities and tourists (Shaw and Williams, 2013).
While there is a wide plethora of literature that explores different businesses including
family firms and enterprises, we argue that there is still a gap in the extant academic knowledge
about family businesses in tourism and hospitality settings (Arcese et al., 2021; Baggio and Valeri,
2020; Esparza Aguilar, 2019; Kallmuenzer, Tajeddini, Gamage, T.C., (...), Rojas, A. and
Schallner, 2021; Rachmawati and Suroso, 2020). Globally, the vast majority of tourism and
hospitality businesses comprise small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) (Baggio and Valeri,
2020). These entities are the ‘life blood’ of tourist destinations as many hotels, bed and breakfasts,
AirBnBs, restaurants, and small transportation service providers, etc., are usually run by family
members in various contexts.
In this light, this contribution examines relevant theoretical underpinnings and empirical
studies that are focused on family businesses in tourism and hospitality. Specifically, its underlying
research question is: “What are the factors that facilitate the growth and development of family
businesses within the tourism and hospitality industry context? Firstly, it provides a thorough
review of the extant literature revolving on tourism and hospitality firms that are owned and
managed by families. Secondly, it features the results from a systematic analysis that relied on a
PRISMA protocol to evaluate articles and review papers from rigorous, peer-reviewed journals.
Thirdly, it synthesizes and interprets their findings. In conclusion, it discusses about the
implications of this contribution, identifies its limitations and suggests future research avenues to
The family business legacy
Several researchers classified different types of family businesses. Very often, they strived
in their endeavors to clarify what constitutes a family business. Yet, currently, there is no agreed-
upon definition of what a family business is. Experts in the field tend to describe the characteristics
of family businesses and discuss about their organizational culture, ownership, leadership,
management involvement, strategic control, governance, et cetera (Valeri, 2021; Valeri and
Katsoni, 2021). All of these criteria can be considered as very important elements of family firms,
depending on where they are, in terms of their lifecycle. Astrachan and Shanker (2003) provided
a broad definition on this concept. They argued that family businesses are controlled by members
of the family, who have to make decisions regarding their strategic direction.
They were aware that this definition covered a “gamut of possibilities”, ranging from large
public companies that are run by descendants of founding family members, to shareholders, board
members and low-level employees. In many cases, previous authors contended that firms with the
same extent of family involvement were or were not always considering themselves as family
businesses, and that their views may change over time. Therefore, there are different definitions
for family firms in the academic literature.
Family businesses are business entities that are administered by owner-managers and their
relatives. They are different from other companies. Their form of ownership may facilitate their
ability to take critical actions quickly and to respond to a changing marketing environment
(Mtapuri, Camilleri and Dłużewska, 2021; Peña‐Miranda, Guevara‐Plaza, Fraiz‐Brea & Camilleri,
2021). Family members may usually have closer ties that enable them to come together and do
whatever it takes towards a common purpose, to safeguard their family’s health and prosperity.
While nonfamily businesses may typically focus on maximizing their financial performance and
shareholder value (Camilleri, 2020), family owners are more likely to focus on values like family
legacy and reputation.
Many authors argued that a family business involves family members who are exerting
their influence or control over the strategic direction of a company. Others discussed about family
firm behaviors and shed light on their unique, inseparable, synergistic resources and capabilities
arising from family involvement and interactions (Chrisman, Chua and Sharma, 2005;
Habbershon, Williams and MacMillan, 2003). For example, Seaman et al. (2017) consider the
interactions between family, business and friendship networks. Other authors also advance
relevant knowledge on this topic (Valeri, 2016; Baggio and Valeri, 2020; Valeri and Baggio,
2020a; 2020b; 2020c; 2021).
Unlike the corporations’ executives, family members are usually personally as well as
professionally involved in their entrepreneurial activities. In this case, there are no boundaries for
them. Their relationships with employees are usually characterized by their values of trust,
commitment, empathy and transparency as opposed to those held by larger companies. Hence,
family firms may not always necessitate formal structures and bureaucratic systems that are
prevalent in non-family entities. Family businesses tend to utilize looser control systems, may not
rely on procedural hurdles, formal documentation or transactions. Thus, the informal style of
family businesses can offer motivating working environments.
Previous research reported that family owner-managers would typically engage in two-way
communications with their employees and may usually forge closer relationships with them. This
type of enterprise is conspicuous in small organizations where employees are non-unionized, even
though they may be expected to engage in varied roles and could be assigned different duties and
responsibilities. Such workplaces will usually have low turn-over rates, and still experience fewer
industrial disputes and strikes than other businesses.
Conversely, family firms can be dictatorially run by a coercive owner-manager. As a result,
employees and family members may have little or no involvement in the running of their business.
A typical tension field that may occur in family businesses happens when there is a conflict of
interest between the personal needs of the owner–managers and their business. Hence, the business
owners’ personal characteristics and attributes may play a key role in the performance of their
family firm. Relevant studies on this topic often reported mixed findings on the working
environment and organizational culture of family businesses. Some authors noted that while
employees of nonfamily businesses seem to enjoy superior employment packages, rewards,
employment terms and physical working conditions, the quality of the job environment in small
businesses is poorer than what you find in their larger counterparts (Russo and Tencati, 2009).
Chrisman et al. (2005) maintained that two firms with the same extent of family
involvement may not necessarily be considered as family businesses; if they lack the intention,
vision, familiness, and/or behaviors that truly represent the essence of a family business. They
went on to suggest that family firms exist because of the reciprocal economic and non-economic
value that is cocreated through the combination of family and business systems. On the other hand,
there may be problems arising from close kinship, ownership and management transfers, that may
ultimately result in inefficiencies, conflicting intentions and behaviors that could limit the ability
of family businesses to create or maintain distinctive familiness (Miller, Steier and Le Breton-
Miller, 2003; Steier, 2001, 2003; Stewart, 2003).
For instance, certain family members may want to exert control over their firm in ways that
would nullify the value of existing competences and capabilities. Their behaviors could slow down
or prevent the development of their organization. The extent to which a firm may be considered as
a family business could be determined by the family members’ involvement in influencing the
leadership decision in their business (Chrisman et al., 2005; Astrachan, Klein and Smyrnios, 2002).
It is important to clearly distinguish the differences between family and nonfamily businesses
to subdivide them into various categories. For example, family businesses can be categorized by
Like other SMEs, small family firms may have limited access to resources including
financial capital and human capabilities. The very size of their businesses may create a special
condition, which is often referred to as `resource poverty' (O'Cass and Weerawardena, 2009).
SMEs and family businesses tend to find themselves in an equity gap, where it is very difficult to
acquire finance to operate efficiently (Camilleri, 2018). Although banks are key providers of
finance through the provision of loans, the availability of unsecured bank finance to these
businesses is usually very limited.
The growth of small family enterprises remains severely restricted, particularly if they
cannot provide additional securities or collaterals for their investments. Even small businesses with
high growth potential may experience difficulties in raising relatively modest amounts of risk
capital. Moreover, external forces and potential threats from the marketing environment could
have more devastating effects on family businesses than on other companies. For instance, changes
in government regulations, tax laws, labor legislation and interest rates may usually affect a greater
percentage of expenses in smaller family businesses than they do for other organizations (Brune,
Thomsen and Watrin, 2019).
Family-owned businesses may evolve over time as their ownership may be transferred
from founder-members to their relatives (Peters, Raich, Märk and Pichler, 2012). Various forms
of succession may result in different ownership structures, revised duties and responsibilities of
employees of family businesses. The descendants of unrelated founders can find themselves
owning and managing their company and may even sit in the same board. In this case, there will
be two or more families who have a stake in the business. However, just one of them will be in
control (i.e. the largest shareholder) (Astrachan et al., 2002).
For instance, Hoshi Ryokan, Komatsu is one of the oldest hotels in the world. This property
has been owned and managed by the Hoshi family in the past centuries. Other popular family
businesses in the hospitality sector include Gmachl in Salzburg and Hotel Sacher in Vienna
(Austria); Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong (China); Bristol Hotel in Paris (France); Villa D’Este in
Como, Italy; Hoshi Ryokan Komatsu
in Ishikawa (Japan); Baur-au-Lac in Zurich, Switzerland;
Goring Hotel in London, West Lodge Park in Hadley Wood, Hertfordshire (UK) and Seaside hotel
Kennebunk in Maine (USA), among others.
This research adopted PRISMA’s robust protocol (Moher, Shamseer, Clarke, Ghersi,
Liberati, Petticrew ... and Stewart, 2015) to systematically extract and evaluate the content of high-
impact academic contributions that that were indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. Hence, this
review was carefully planned and documented in all stages, to ensure the accountability, integrity,
and transparency of the findings. The search query considered the total number of articles that
were published in English through rigorous journals. It also provided details on the number of
publications that were published each year. Scopus as well as Web of Science featured a list of
contributing authors, identified their papers’ subject areas and keywords. Moreover, it sorted them
from highest to lowest. These two repositories clearly distinguished between different publication
stages, document types and source titles. Table 1 clarifies the methodology that was used to
capture, analyze and synthesize the findings from this contribution’s systematic review.
Table 1: The systematic review
Formulation of the research question
PRISMA protocol for systematic analysis
Relevant keywords were inserted in the search query of two
databases (i.e. Scopus and Web of Science).
Only contributions that were published in rigorous, peer-
reviewed journals were identified and screened in this review.
Duplicates (that were featured in both databases) were removed.
The query yielded a list of the top journals, related subject areas
of contributions, and reported the most popular keywords that
were inserted by the authors.
Syntheses and interpretation of the findings from eligible
Conclusions and implications
The systematic review considered publications that featured “family business” AND
“tourism” OR “hospitality” in their title, abstract and keywords, as of October 2021. The search
query excluded books, book series, conference proceedings and trade publications from this review
exercise - as they were not considered as rigorous as academic journals. The results revealed that
there were 108 contributions in Scopus and 35 in Web of Science. Since 2010, there 68 that were
indexed in Scopus and 32 in Web of Science (17 were featured in Social Sciences Citation Index,
11 in Emerging Sources Citation Index and 4 in SCI-EXPANDED). Table 2 presents a list of 43
articles that were focused on family businesses in tourism. It endorses the contributing authors,
describes their methodological approaches, features the keywords of their research and clarifies
their research questions. The following contributions were published since 2010 (to date):
Table 2 A non-exhaustive list of articles on family businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry context (sorted from highest to lowest
Scopus WOS Authors Year
Method Keywords Research Question
Vrontis, D., Bresciani,
S., Giacosa, E.
2016 British Food
No Case study Cultural identity; Identity;
Family businesses; Innovation;
Territory; Tradition; Wine
This research analyzed how a strategy based on the
combination of tradition and innovation can offer a
competitive advantage to a medium-
sized family firms operating in the wine sector.
2 SSCI Peters, M.,
2018 Current Issues in
Family business; Hospitality;
This explorative study analyzed the owner-
managers’ perceptions of entrepreneurial behaviors
(of hospitality enterprises) and their effect on
3 SSCI Hallak, R., Assaker,
G., O’Connor, P.
2014 Journal of
No Quantitative Business performance;
Family business; Multigroup
invariance; Small and medium
tourism enterprises; SMTEs;
Structural equation modeling.
This research examined the relationship between
entrepreneurial self-efficacy (ESE) and enterprise
performance in family-owned and nonfamily-owned
small- and medium-sized enterprises.
4 SSCI Ahmad, S.Z. 2015 Current Issues in
Hotel industry; Motivation;
Problems and challenges;
Small- and medium-sized
hotel; United Arab Emirates
This study explored the determinants and
characteristics of owner-managers of small- and
medium-sized hotels (SMSHs) and identify various
challenges in starting up and operating businesses.
5 SSCI Kallmuenzer, A.,
Nikolakis, W., Peters,
M., Zanon, J.
2018 Journal of
Austria; Family business;
Random utility theory; Rural
wealth (SEW); Sustainability.
This study was built on the foundations of socio-
emotional wealth (SEW) and random utility theory,
to understand the drivers of sustainability in
rural tourism family firms (RTFFs).
6 SSCI Kallmuenzer, A.,
No Quantitative Control mechanisms; Family
This study explored the innovativeness
of tourism/hospitality family firms (THFF) and
determined its effect on financial performance. It
also compares it to that in non-tourism/hospitality
Giacosa, E., Ferraris,
A., Monge, F.
2017 British Food
No Case study Cultural identity; Family
businesses; Food sector;
The paper clarified how a medium-sized company
operating in the food sector should strengthen
its business model (through a combination of
tradition and innovative approaches).
8 SSCI Kallmuenzer, A. 2018 International
This research explores which actors in the hospitality
industry drive innovation in hospitality family firms
and particularly aims at understanding how these
drivers contribute to create and sustain competitive
9 ESCI Pikkemaat, B., Zehrer,
Family business; Innovation;
Service experiences; Small
This paper explored innovation and service
experiences in family firms within
the tourism industry.
10 N/A Presas, P., Mũoz, D.,
2011 Journal of Brand
Business growth; Corporate
branding; Familiness; Family
values; Sustainable practices.
This research explored how family businesses can
create and develop a corporate brand in the tourism
Elmo, G.C., Arcese,
G., Valeri, M., Poponi,
S., Pacchera, F.
Case studies; Family business;
Family dynamics; Innovation
This research identified innovation and sustainability
drivers within family businesses in tourism.
12 ESCI Baggio, R., Valeri, M. 2020 Journal of
Family business; Network
analysis; Network science;
This research explored the effects of network
structures on the sustainable performance
of tourism family businesses.
13 SSCI Presas, P., Guia, J.,
2014 Journal of Travel
Familiness; Family business;
This research explored the consumers’ perceptions
on family businesses in tourism.
14 ESCI Arcese, G., Valeri, M.,
Poponi, S., Elmo, G.C.
2020 Journal of
No Review Family business; Family
drivers; Tourism and
This paper explored the “family business model” and
their innovations in tourism.
15 SSCI Çiçek, D., Zencir, E.,
2017 Journal of
Oral history; Tourism; Turkey;
This study sheds light on the achievements of female
entrepreneurs in the Turkish tourism sector.
16 SSCI Lee, Y.-S., Shin, W.-J. 2015 Service Business Yes Qualitative
Customer experience in
tourism; Master culture and
tradition; Storytelling; The
This study examines storytelling as a marketing
strategy to revitalize the tradition-bound Japanese
17 SSCI Chan, J.K.L., Quah,
2012 Asia Pacific
Family business; Market
opportunities; Push and pull
factors; Small and medium
business; Small and medium-
sized accommodation; Start-up
This article identifies start-up factors for small and
medium-sized accommodation (SMSA) businesses.
18 ESCI Camisón, C., Forés,
B., Puig-Denia, A.
Yes Quantitative Economic profitability; Family
profitability; Tourism sector.
This research evaluates the return on capital in terms
of economic and financial profitability of family
businesses operating within the tourism sector.
19 N/A Peters, M., Raich, M.,
Märk, S., Pichler, S.
2012 Tourism Review Yes Qualitative
Family business; Family firms;
services; Hotels; Interviews;
Italy; Qualitative method;
This research sheds light on the different dimensions
of commitment relevant for the succession process.
20 SSCI Ismail, H.N., Mohd
Puzi, M.A., Banki,
M.B., Yusoff, N.
2019 Journal of
No Case study Family business; Resiliency;
This paper sheds light on two successful case studies
of two tourism SMEs in the islands in Malaysia.
21 SSCI Hallak, R., Assaker, G. 2013 Asia Pacific
No Quantitative Commitment to stay; Family
invariance; Small and medium
tourism enterprises; South
This study examines differences between family-
owned and non-family-owned small and
medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) operating in
regional tourism destinations.
22 SSCI Engeset, A.B. 2020 Scandinavian
Family business; Family firm
Norway; Rural tourism.
This research explores how family businesses
respond to various challenges. It reveals how family
ownership has influenced the survival of rural
Glowka, G., Zehrer, A. 2019 Sustainability
Family business; Risk
This research examined family-business owners'
perceptions of risks in Austrian tourism destinations.
24 ESCI Esparza Aguilar, J.L. 2019 Journal of
No Quantitative CSR; Family business;
Mexico; MSMEs; Quintana
This paper identifies the CSR practices that were
adopted by a Mexican family business and by non-
Walton, J.K. 2014 Business History No Case study Family business; Health;
Leisure; Paternalism; Regional
identity; Spain; Sustainability;
This case study sheds light on a family-run spa hotel
with an elite clientele in Galicia, Spain.
Vrontis, D., Culasso,
F., Giacosa, E.,
2019 British Food
No Case study Entrepreneurship; Exploration
and exploitation activities;
Family businesses; Food
This paper focuses on the relevance of adopting an
ambidextrous entrepreneurial strategy in the food
sector that is characterized by established traditions
and changing consumption patterns.
27 SSCI Yazici, S., Köseoglu,
M.A., Okumus, F.
2016 Journal of
This research investigates what factors drive growth
for independent hotel firms on an island.
28 ESCI Ahmad, S.Z.,
Yes Quantitative Business challenges;
and tourism; Motivation;
Small and medium-sized hotel
business; United Arab
This research investigated the determinants and
characteristics of the owner-managers of small- and
medium-sized hotels (SMSHs) who started up and
operated businesses in the United Arab Emirates.
29 SSCI Jaafar, M., Aziz,
2012 Asia Pacific
No Quantitative Business challenges;
and tourism; Motivation;
Small and medium-sized hotel
business; United Arab
This research explored the marketing aspects of
small and medium-sized budget hotels (SMBHs) in
three urban cities in East Peninsular Malaysia.
30 SSCI Bujan, I. 2020 Economic
Yes Quantitative Entrepreneurial knowledge;
Small family hotels; Socio-
emotional wealth (S.E.W.).
This study identified and measured specific
entrepreneurial attributes, knowledge and
socioemotional wealth (S.E.W.) of owners of small
31 N/A Prevolsek, B.,
Rozman, C., Pazek,
K., Maksimovic, A.,
2017 Podravina No Quantitative Family business, Succession,
Tourism, Multi criteria, DEX,
This study explored the criteria affecting the
successful succession of the business transfer in the
context of family businesses in tourism.
32 N/A Ollenburg, C.,
Yes Quantitative Family business, Succession,
Tourism, Multi criteria, DEX,
This research explored farm-owners’ motivations to
diversify into tourism accommodation services.
33 SSCI López-Chávez, B.A.,
C., Larrañaga Núñez,
No Review Article review;
business; Innovation; Strategic
This study analyzed the current state of knowledge
about family businesses in tourism through a
systematic review of international academic
literature (the researchers focused on Latin
34 ESCI Canovi, M., Lyon, A. 2020 Tourism
Family business; Socio-
emotional wealth; Wine
This paper examined the owner-managers’
motivations to diversify family wineries' into
agritourism service providers.
35 ESCI Heimerl, P., Peters, M. 2019 Tourism No Qualitative
Destination planning; Action
research; World café; Family
business; Scenario technique.
This research explored the tourism "product", the
variety of stakeholders and growing market-pressure
forces that can have an effect on small- and medium-
sized family businesses in Alpine destinations
36 ESCI Rosalin, G., Poulston,
J., Goodsir, W.
Communication; family firms;
hospitality; New Zealand;
This exploratory study therefore examines the
communication of strategies in family-owned
restaurants to determine the likely impact of family
ownership on strategy communication.
2013 Problems and
No Review Development;
Life cycle; Tourism and
This paper examines various factors influencing the
performance and success of small tourism and
hospitality businesses that operate in West Virginia.
Aguilar, J.L.E., de
2011 Cuadernos de
No Case Study Culture; Family business;
This article studies the culture of four family
businesses, and analyses their influence on their
39 SSCI Nguyen, H.T.T.,
2020 Journal of Small
Family business; qualitative;
This study explores the stakeholders’ perceptions of
sustainable entrepreneurship dimensions in a
40 ESCI Rachmawati, E.,
Suliyanto, Suroso, A.
2020 Journal of
No Quantitative Entrepreneurial orientation;
Family business performance;
Family involvement; Gender.
This study explored the direct effect of
entrepreneurial orientation on family business
performance. It also investigated the role of family
involvement as a mediating variable and the role of
gender as a moderating variable in the relationship
between entrepreneurial orientation and family
41 N/A Fyfe, J., Bent, R.,
Family business; Hotels;
Internet use; Marketing;
Scotland.; Small business;
This exploratory study is designed to initiate
dialogue and to explore the operating environment
and perceived business support needs in the ever-
more complex and dynamic e-environment.
42 ESCI Giousmpasoglou, C. 2019 Hospitality and
General managers; Greece;
Hospitality; Managerial work;
Small and medium luxury
hotels; Work context.
This study explores the mediating factors that affect
the general managers’ work in small and medium
luxury hotels (SMLHs) in a popular tourist
destination in Greece.
43 ESCI Tomasella, B., Ali, A. 2019 Hospitality and
Hospitality industry; Small
business social responsibility;
This article investigates the relationship between
personal values, hospitableness and social
responsibility in small, independent foodservice
Note: Sorted from highest to lowest number of citations (in October 2021).
According to Scopus, the top 10 subject areas of these articles were related to Business,
Management and Accounting (45), Social Sciences (26), Economics, Econometrics and Finance
(14), Environmental Science (9), Energy (5), Agricultural and Biological Sciences (4), Arts and
Humanities (3), Decision Sciences (2), Earth and Planetary Sciences (1), and Engineering (1).
Web of Sciences categorized the search results according to the following subject areas:
Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism (11), Management (7), Agricultural Economics Policy (2),
Business (2), Economics (2), Food Science Technology (2), Environmental Sciences (1),
Environmental Studies (1), Green Sustainable Science Technology (1), Sociology (1) and
Scopus reported that the Journal of Family Business Management (5) was the top journal that
published most papers on the topics related to family business in tourism. It was closely followed
by Sustainability Switzerland (4), Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research (3), British Food
Journal (3), Current Issues in Tourism (2), Academia Revista Latino Americana de Administracion
(1), Administrative Sciences (1), Asian Academy of Management Journal (1), Business History
(1), and Cuadernos de Administracion (1). Web of Science reported the following results: Journal
of Family Business Management (3), Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research (2), British Food
Journal (2), Current Issues in Tourism (2), Sustainability (2), Academia Revista Latinoamericana
de Administracion (1), Economic Research Ekonomska (1), Ekonomski Pregled (1), European
Journal of Management (1), International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (1),
and International Journal of Hospitality Management (1).
The most used keywords in Scopus-indexed publications included: Family Business (30),
Tourism (18), Business Development (8), Sustainability (7), Innovation (6), Tourism Development
(6), Hospitality (5), Service Sector (5), Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (5), and
Entrepreneurship (4). The results in Web of Science do not reveal the authors’ keywords that were
included in their publications. Interestingly, business development (Chan and Quah, 2012; Elmo
et al., 2020; Fonseca and Carnicelli, 2021; Peters and Kallmuenzer, 2018; Pikkemaat and Zehrer,
2016; Prevolsek et al., 2017; Walton, 2014;) was featured as the fourth most popular keyword,
after “family business”, “tourism” and “hospitality”.
The development of family firms in tourism and hospitality
Tourism and hospitality family businesses are characterized by their specific ownership,
leadership and organization as well as by their stakeholder relationships, that differentiate them
from nonfamily companies
Engeset, 2020; Martínez, Stöhr and Quiroga, 2007; Rosalin et al.,
2016; Kumar et al., 2021). Notwithstanding, there are various variables that could enable or disable
family firms of different types and sizes, to generate and sustain new business development in the
long term (Peters and Kallmuenzer, 2018).
The owners of tourism family firms may try to balance their business objectives with those
of their family’s interests (Getz and Carlsen, 2005). Other research indicated that the objectives of
such family businesses are different than nonfamily-run companies. The former businesses are
usually influenced by family issues and lifestyle objectives. While Getz and Carlsen (2000) found
that the majority of businesses considered family goals as more important than their business goals;
Andersson, Carlsen and Getz (2002) argued that tourism family businesses ought to operate in a
profitable manner, if they want to support their family members, and to maintain a decent quality
of life. Their thriving businesses could enable them to create a family legacy and to pass on their
company to the next generation (Andersson et al., 2002). Again, this cannot be achieved unless it
is financially successful
Erdogan, Rondi, De Massis, 2020;
Williams, Pieper, Kellermanns &
Small family-run businesses may be expected to provide employment opportunities to
family members. Hence, they are not always recruiting the most qualified employees for the job.
This may result in conflicts among employees (Miller et al., 2003; Peters and Buhalis, 2004).
Conversely, multinational corporations are capable of attracting the best candidates for the job.
They are usually in a better position to lure investors as well as venture capitalists’ funds. On the
other hand, family business owners may be reluctant to accept financial injections from external
investors, for fear of losing control over their business. The personal qualities, traits and attributes
of the business owners can have significant effects on the long-term prospects of the companies
they lead and manage (Hallak, Assaker and Connor, 2014).
Family firms are not always in a position to raise their margins and to allocate financial
resources for research and development and toward market research, product development, skills
or creativity enhancement
Pikkemaat and Zehrer 2016). Very often, they are not benefiting from
economies of scale that are afforded by bigger businesses. Moreover, they may be reluctant to
cooperate and forge alliances with other businesses, including with competitors to gain economies
of scope, that could enable them to improve their services. Many academic researchers argued that
family firms ought to value long-term cooperation and social networking within the communities
where they operate their business (Pikkemaat and Zehrer 2016; Camisón et al., 2016). Their
networking (Baggio and Valeri, 2020) and innovation management processes (Kallmuenzer, 2018;
Vrontis et al., 2016) are often driven by local community needs and by their orientations towards
sustainable tourism development (Baggio and Valeri, 2020; Camilleri, 2014; Ismail et al., 2019;
Kallmuenzer et al., 2018).
Family members may not possess the networking skills to develop fruitful relationships
with corporate stakeholders (Arcese et al., 2020; Camilleri, 2016; Troise & Camilleri, 2021) and/or
may lack adequate knowledge to formulate appropriate business strategies for their company
(Pikkemaat and Zehrer, 2016). Their businesses are expected to continuously innovate to
guarantee their survival and to improve their performance in the long term (Elmo et al., 2020). In
a similar vein, Rachmawati et al., (2020) pointed out that family entrepreneurs need to be more
innovative and take risks so that they can compete in the global scenario. They suggested that their
internationalization prospects may help their business to improve their reputation in order to
enhance their bottom lines, whilst satisfying their families’ interests. Other authors contended that
they have to identify innovation opportunities (Arcese et al., 2020; Giacosa et al., 2017; López-
Chávez et al., 2021; Valeri et al., 2020) whilst defending their values and traditions in order to
guarantee that their family business legacy transcends from one generation to the next (Obermayer
et al., 2021; Santos et al., 2021c).
Succession issues may affect the form of ownership structures of tourism family enterprises
as well as their governance, leadership, management and strategies. Elmo et al. (2020) maintained
that the innovation process is likely to occur after succession periods when there are changes in
the ownership of family businesses. They went on to suggest that successors (i.e. incoming owner-
managers) of family firms may represent new opportunities, resources, and sources of knowledge
and information for them. Other authors delved into family succession matters (Kallmuenzer et
al., 2021; Ollenburg and Buckley, 2011; Prevolsek et al., 2017; Steier, 2001). In the main, these
commentators recognized that succession remains a contentious issue that may either result in
positive outcomes or in negative repercussions that can ultimately hinder the growth and
development of family businesses (Miller, 2003; Peters et al., 2012).
This systematic review confirmed that lately there is a growing interest among academia
on research that is focused on small businesses in tourism and hospitality (e.g. Arcese et al., 2020;
Baggio and Valeri, 2020; Peters and Kallmuenzer, 2018; Vrontis et al., 2016). It clarified that there
are a number of internal and external factors that can affect their long-term prospects (Camilleri,
2017; Camilleri, 2021a; Giousmpasoglou, 2019; Zapalska and Brozik, 2013; Santos et al., 2021a;
2021b). Moreover, it reported that more authors are increasingly investigating their business
development, sustainable development and innovation capabilities (Mtapuri et al., 2021, Peña‐
Miranda et al., 2021). It suggests that family firms differentiate themselves from nonfamily
businesses as they consider other important values in addition to profit, including family legacy,
trust, commitment and reputation. It explained that it is in their interest to engage with different
stakeholders (including competitors) (Camilleri, 2019) to benefit from synergistic resources and
capabilities, to increase their economies of scale and scope, to thrive in an increasingly competitive
Currently, many businesses are still feeling the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic (Albattat et al., 2020; Camilleri, 2021b; Chemli et al., 2020; Toanoglou et al., 2021).
During this crisis, family enterprises and other companies, faced serious liquidity shortages and
became cash strapped after they experienced a considerable decline in their business activities. In
many cases, they were resilient as they reinforced their purpose and values to ensure that their
business remains intact. Generally, they strived in their endeavors to safeguard their financial and
emotional investments, to preserve their legacy. Those family owner managers that have better
adapted to the pandemic and who are still operating their tourism or hospitality business are better
prepared for economic growth and development in the post-pandemic context.
The contribution is not without limitations. Although this systematic review has carefully
considered rigorous articles and reviews that are focused on the development of family businesses
in tourism and hospitality, there is scope to investigate different forms of family hotels and family
restaurants in more depth and breadth, in terms of their sizes, types of ownership, succession
issues, organizational cultures, access to financial resources, et cetera. Future studies can explore
the differences between family enterprises and SMEs within the tourism and hospitality industries,
in various contexts.
The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive remarks and suggestions.
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