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Digital transformation through exploratory and exploitative Internet of Things innovations: the impact of family management and technological diversification

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/09/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>The Journal of Product Innovation Management
Number of pages24
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date11/09/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study examines the impact of family management on digital transformation with specific regard to the firm’s development of Internet of Things (IoT) innovations. Drawing on the distinctive characteristics of firms with family managers, such as the focus on family‐centered noneconomic goals, long tenure, emotional ties to existing assets, and rigid mental models, it hypothesizes that increasing family involvement in the top management team is negatively related to the development of IoT innovations that are distant from a firm’s existing technology base (i.e., exploratory IoT innovations) compared to exploitative IoT innovations. Further, the study proposes that the firm’s degree of technological diversification, especially in unrelated forms, reinforces this relationship. The longitudinal analysis between 2002 and 2013 on a sample of publicly traded German firms allows us to test our hypotheses from the beginning of the emergence of the IoT concept. Our findings show that due to the particular characteristics of their managers, family‐managed firms do not welcome the risks related to exploratory IoT innovations, and the benefit of risk diversification from technological diversification is lower than the cost of abandoning family‐centered goals. As our results imply that the involvement of family managers constrains the development of exploratory IoT innovation, the top management team composition in firms that intend to be at the forefront of the digital transformation should be accurately designed by avoiding a high proportion of family members.