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Process thinking and the family business

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Abstract

Time in family businesses plays a crucial role, connecting past, present and future in a non-linear flux. Despite the centrality of time to change and the becoming of organisations, and of family businesses in particular, currently the research in this field primarily relies on variance theory. In this chapter, I aim to show the potential for process thinking and sensemaking in family business research to investigate how dynamic phenomena evolve over time. After having briefly introduced the process approach and its development, I review how it has been used in the family business field to cope with a wide range of phenomena as social capital, business failure and portfolio entrepreneurship. Family business is an idiosyncratic context for implementing process studies due to the relevance of time and of social actors’ interaction. Process thinking may provide us with a better understanding of already studied phenomena analysed from a different perspective while also enabling the investigation of new areas evolving in time.