A jury of CeFEO faculty members from have been evaluating and granting awards for bachelor’s and master’s theses on Family Business and Ownership written by JIBS students since 2013.


To qualify for the competition, a thesis should meet the following criteria: address family business issues, theoretically and/or empirically; have received a grade of at least a B in the final exam.

We consider this competition a unique opportunity for disseminating our research interest between the students of JIBS, reinforcing their interest toward the family business dimension.

The best theses are rewarded up to 10,000 SEK. The award is given to students who, through their genuine interest, hard work and commitment, have written, presented and successfully defended a bachelor’s or master’s thesis in JIBS’ profile area with a focus on Family Business or Ownership.


Submission process

  • JIBS students are invited to submit their thesis on: infocefeo@ju.se
    • object of the email: "Submission to the Thesis Award"
  • Please include the following information:
    • pdf copy of your thesis;
    • name of the thesis' supervisor;
    • personal email address and mobile phone of the authors.
  • Deadline: 15 June 2024
    • please notice: you can submit your thesis even if it is not yet graded.


For more information about our Family Business Thesis Award, contact: Massimo Baù



Hereafter, the recepients of the awards:


Family Business Internationalisation: An Exploratory Study of Home Market Networks and Elaboration on the Revised Uppsala Model

Authors: Laura Bauske and Merve Beyza Kubilay

Supervisor: Daniel Pittino


The Master’s Thesis explores family business internationalisation in four family businesses. Adopting a grounded theory approach, the authors propose revising the Uppsala model and describing the impact of network relationships in the home market on family business internationalization.


Background: Following the ongoing globalisation, family businesses have been inclined to grow their businesses outside of their home markets. While academic attention has been devoted to family business internationalisation, it has mainly taken a family-focused perspective. Existing international business theories emphasise foreign market networks as facilitators for internationalisation, leaving home market networks under-researched.


Purpose: This paper explores family business internationalisation by adopting an international business lens. The revised Uppsala model is used as the main frame of reference to understand how network relationships in the home market facilitate family business internationalisation.


Method: The study is based on a qualitative design with an exploratory purpose and a grounded theory methodology, following a realist ontology and constructionist epistemology. Six in-depth semi-structured interviews with four family businesses were conducted. The use of grounded analysis allowed us to find patterns and explanations to ultimately develop a theory grounded in our findings.

Conclusion: The benefits resulting from home market network relationships facilitate family business internationalisation. Predominantly, the acquisition of knowledge is a necessary step to gain resources family businesses are missing to internationalise. The conceptualisation of our theoretical model with the revised Uppsala model suggests an elaboration of the latter to include network resources and capabilities.


Read it on DiVA


Collaborative Innovation in Family Businesses. Empirical Study on the Influence of Family Involvement in Top Management Teams

Authors: Abdimajid Khayre and Jan Niklas Schmank

Supervisor: Tommaso Minola

Background: Innovation is widely recognized to be instrumental for the sustained competitiveness of businesses, including family businesses. However, many family firms are unable to achieve innovation on their own, necessitating the shift towards collaborative innovation. Yet, due to the overlap of family and business, innovation in family firms is characterized by the so-called“innovation paradox” where family firms usually possess a greater ability to innovate but lack the willingness to do so. Accordingly, considerable attention has been given to the factors that affect the willingness of family firms in an attempt to understand and possibly resolve the innovation paradox.

Purpose: The purpose of the present study is to explore how the degree of family involvement in the top management team (TMT) influences the family firm’s willingness to engage in collaborative innovation and how that influences the preferred type of collaborative innovation. By exploring the link between the degree of family involvement in TMT and the willingness in the context of collaborative innovation, our study aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the innovation paradox associated with family businesses, and thereby offer important insights to practitioners, both from the family and non-family perspective.

Method: Our methods were based on qualitative research with an exploratory research design and multiple case-study methods of eleven family firms. Through semi-structured interviews with both family and non-family TMT members, we gained insights into the role of family influence on family firms. We also used a cross-case analysis to compare the cases and indicate similarities and differences in order to draw our conclusions.

Conclusion: The results of the study show that the degree of family involvement in the top management teams influences the family firms’ willingness to engage in collaborative innovation. Depending on the degree of family involvement as represented by the respective configurations, five patterns of influence manifestations (IM) are identified.

Read it on DiVA


When ability and willingness is not enough. A study of Swedish family farmers implementation of circular agriculture practices

Authors: John Martinson and Emelie Ramsö

Supervisor: Naveed Akhter

Background: The agricultural industry has a damaging impact on the environment and great potential for sustainable development. The concept of circular agriculture (CA) is proposed as an answer to this challenge. However, the implementation of CA is dependent on the farmers since they are in control of implementing new farming practices. Furthermore, since family farmers operate 75% of the world's land, it is crucial to understand their specific characteristics, challenges, and opportunities. Researching family farmers could provide important implications for transforming the industry. This study investigates how Swedish family farmers' ability and willingness guide their actions through the ability and willingness paradox.

Purpose: This study aims to explore Swedish family farmers' ability and willingness to implement circular agricultural practices.

Method: The study follows an interpretivist approach through five case studies. Qualitative semi-structured interviews are conducted along with observations at the farms. The empirical data is analysed through a coding procedure, where themes emerge from the data both by semantic and a latent analysis approach. The research elaborates existing theory through an inductively inspired approach.

Conclusion: This study suggests that the theory of the ability and willingness paradox in the context of Swedish family farms might be inverted. This means that there is a high willingness to implement CA practices among the family farmers and ability is the factor that is preventing CA implementation. In addition to this conclusion, findings also suggest awareness and the role of institutions as influencing factors that both enforce and restrict CA implementation.

Read it on DiVA Länk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster.


Succession and Post-Succession Conflicts in Family Firms: A Multi-perspective Investigation into Succession and Post-Succession Conflicts in Multigenerational Family Firms

Authors: Lamiaa Bakry and Marie Klein

Supervisor: Matthias Waldkirch

Background: The succession process of a family firm is associated with a number of challenges, and hence a potential for conflicts is strongly pronounced. However, succession is of utmost importance for a family firm, as it is the only way to avoid a company closure in the long run. Previous literature has already extensively researched the phenomena of conflicts in family firms. However, there is a lack of research that looks from a multi-perspective lens into the context of succession and post-succession conflicts. Therefore, in the present research, we examine how family businesses experience and cope conflicts that appear after a successfully mastered intrafamily succession.

Purpose: This study aims to advance the understanding of conflicts in family firms related explicitly to the context of successions and post-successions. Hence, the thesis aims to determine how conflicts that appear in these contexts are experienced and how they are coped with.

Method: The study follows a qualitative methodological approach and an inductive analysis. The sample consists of three companies and 14 research respondents, and the data was collected with semi-structured qualitative interviews. Afterwards, the data was coded, and the emerging patterns and themes have been formulated and presented with a general model. Doing so, the focus was on patterns of succession- and post-succession-related conflicts and their coping strategies.

Conclusion: Our findings reveal that succession and post-succession-related conflicts are experienced as evoked intangible and provoked tangible conflicts and these conflicts are consciously as well as unconsciously coped with. Furthermore, our findings suggest that succession and post-succession family firm conflicts appear as conflict loops. Hence, the coping mechanisms identified and presented are helpful to solve a conflict, but the loop can hardly be escaped.

Read it on DiVA Länk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster.


The Function of Financial Reporting in Family Firms

Authors: Veronika Gillberg and Matilda Rolfsson (in the photo)

Supervisor: Annika Yström


The study explores financial reporting in family firms. The authors interviewed 11 CEO and CFO of small-and-medium-sized family firms in Sweden. The thesis shows that that family SMEs with an high ownership concentration use financial reporting as a communication tool to external stakeholders to demonstrate financial stability and trustworthy accounts as well as to protect the firms’ reputation and image that are connected with a socio-emotional wealth of the family.

Read it on DIVA Länk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster.


How family influence impact dynamic capabilities
for service innovation

Authors: Martina Edberg and Amanda Hammarström

Supervisor: Tommaso Minola


The study explores how the involvement of the family in the business influences the way a family firm engages in service innovation. The authors interviewed 11 family and non-family members of a Swedish family firm operating in the hospitality industry, producing an in-depth single-case study. The study identifies five attributes of family influence and recognizes a positive impact of family involvement on the dynamic sensing capabilities for service innovation.

Read it on DIVA Länk till annan webbplats, öppnas i nytt fönster.


Unleashing the Potential of Open Innovation in Family Firms: Towards the Explanation of the Ability and Willingness Dichotomy in Family Firms

Autors: Elisa Engels & SIna Fabienne Herholz
Supervisor: Tommaso Minola

Abstract: Research on Open Innovation (OI) is flourishing and opening the innovation process is increasingly perceived as a vital source for sustained competitive advantage. Nascent research on OI in family firms left us to wonder whether the performance-enhancing effects of OI also hold true for family firms. What we do know so far is despite that family firms typically possess greater ability to innovate, they lack the willingness to do so. Taking this as a starting point, the purpose of this study was to identify sources of family firm heterogeneity, in order to explain how these differences influence their willingness to engage in OI and further assess the overall relevance of OI models for family firms. In an attempt to resolve the innovation paradox, the present study builds upon a multi-theory approach of behavioral lenses, to capture the inherent complexities of family firm innovation. Empirical evidence from a cross-industry analysis of 176 German Mittelstand firms provides strong support for the importance of OI practices in a family firm context. Precisely, we affirm that family firms generate increased performance outcomes when engaging in OI. Our findings unearth a double-edged sword that higher generations foster a family firm’s willingness to engage in OI, but hamper their ability to benefit from it. Our findings are especially relevant in light of current market dynamics and build the bridge between OI and family firm research in an insightful manner. We thereby contribute to solving one piece of the innovation puzzle and identify promising areas for future research.

Read it on DIVA



Growing Your Own Branch While Pruning the Family Tree: An Exploratory Study of Individual Career Management in the Context of Family Business

Authors: Jen Lundgren & Kajsa Hultén
Supervisor: Sambit Lenka

Abstract: The concept of individual career management has emerged from changes in the socioeconomic environment and conditions for how the world of work is perceived by most individuals. The previous long-term relationship between employers and employees has shifted to a contemporary ephemeral one and the current dynamic setting of careers entails more self- directive planning individual responsibility than historically. Family businesses represent a dominant part of organisational forms around the world, yet little is known about individual career management in the family business setting. Thus, this study include family members active in family firms around the Jönköping region to explore the concept of individual career management in the context of family business.

Read it on DIVA


Soft Issues in Family Firms – A Study About Content And Process Advisors

Autors: Marina Baù & Peter Trümmel
Supervisor: Mattias Nordqvist

Abstract: Family firms have a strong impact on the world’s well-being, in terms of social stability, international wealth creation, and global development. Advisors appear essential to ensure the family firms’ prosperity and success, representing a potential source of advantage. There are several types of advisors working for family firms. Our study focuses on formal advisors (i.e. professionals, legally hired and paid by family firms), that either provide process or content advisory. Process advisors focus more on family dynamics and processes (e.g. relational and emotional aspect), while content advisors provide strategic services and specialized knowledge.

Read it on DIVA



The Chairperson of the Board – An exploratory study in Swedish Enterprises

Authors: Alexander Meineke & Anup Banerjee
Supervisor: Mattias Nordqvist

Abstract: This study is an initial attempt to answer to the lack of qualitative research specifically focusing on the of the board chair. Historically, this role has been considered as undervalued and misunderstood, however, more recently scholars are devoting an increasing interest and attention to this role. Evidently, there is a higher awareness for corporate governance matters, yet only a few studies have inquired into this phenomenon. In fact, scholars point out that chairpersons are among a group of individuals that are particularly hard to access for the purpose of academic research. While this role has been studied mainly in the US context, there is no study that has been conducted in the Nordic region.

Read it on DIVA



Open Innovation in Family Firms – How does the Family Involvement influence the Implementation of Open Innovation?

Authors: Kristin Klinge & Eike Bünker
Supervisor: Tommaso Minola

Abstract: The concept of open innovation is well researched by various scholars in the context of large organizations and SMEs. However, the link to family firms is often missing and under researched. Resulting of the importance of the “how” component in family firm research, it is interesting to see how family firms actually implement the concept of open innovation and how it is influenced by unique family firm characteristics. Therefore, this study sheds light on how the family involvement affects the implementation of open innovation.

Read it on DIVA


not assigned



Opening the Black Box of Financing Decision-Making: Exploring the Process, Actors and Arenas in Family Firms

Author: Anna Maria Bornhausen and Konstantin Kuehl
Supervisor: Hans Lundberg

Motivation: The students conducted a multiple case study research proposing an original explanation of how the financing decision-making process unfolds in family firms. The topic is particularly interesting because of the interplay of financial and non-financial goals in family firms. The authors interviewed 15 respondents in 3 case companies as well as 2 consultants, collecting more than 18 hours of empirical material. Drawing on strategy-as-practice and the concepts of strategic actors and arenas, the thesis uncovers where the process unfolds and who is involved. The authors show how the financing process develops through the alternation between formal and informal arenas, and varying practices of conformity and friction. The contribution is solid, well written and based on in-depth empirical analysis. The thesis represents a valid contribution to family business research as well as an interesting reading for practitioners who are involved in financing decision-making processes.

Read it on DIVA



Blood is Thicker Than Water. An Examination of the Exclusion of Non-Family Managers in Family Firms

Authors: Damjan Malbasic & Christina Purtscheller
Supervisor: Ethel Brundin

The students conducted a multiple case study research proposing an original explanation of the exclusion of non-family managers. The reasons are six. Exclusion can be based on the family’s values and norms, exclusive knowledge of a family member, the need of quick decision making, the need of secrecy, the manager’s professional values and norms, and the manager’s personal values and norms. The contribution is solid and well written. Important insights are supported by theories and a valid use of quotation.

Read it on DIVA


Understanding Socioemotional Wealth – Examining SEW and Its Effect on Internationalizaton

Authors: Qing Lan
Supervisor: Francesco Chirico

Motivation: The thesis is solid and well written, and presents a valid statistical analysis that demonstrates a clear understanding of different techniques and softwares.The author addresses an important topic in the family business literature advancing the research on the impact of Socio-Emotional Wealth (SEW) on the internationalization of family-owned hidden champions. The findings reveal that SEW has a negative effect on the internationalization of family firms, which is mainly due to the negative effect of family control and influence.

Read it on DIVA


An emotional ownership perspective on the dynamics of role conflicts and relationship conflicts within family businesses

Authors: Stefanie Höneß & Adam Tarek Kamal
Supervisor: Ethel Brundin

Motivation: The thesis aims to determine how the emotional ownership of family members influence the relationship conflicts within family firms. Students identify different reasons, such as the existence of norms to govern the separation of family- and work-related roles within the family and the company, strong family cohesion and trust among the family and its members, cultural factors. The theoretical contribution is presented and discussed as well as interesting suggestions for practitioners dealing with relational conflicts within the family.

Read it on DIVA


An Earthquake or Just a Tremor? How German Family Firms Will Be Affected by the Upcoming Change of the Inheritance Taxation

Authors: Julia Karin Baumanns & Dominik Moritz Konrad Schörm
Tutor: Jonas Dahlqvist

Motivation: The thesis deals with a relevant topic for family business research on ownership succession.The authors discuss how and in what way the decision on ownership transition within family firms is influenced by the change of the German inheritance taxation. Important implications for practice are identified and discussed.The preservation of family ownership seems to be more important than the transaction costs generated by the inheritance law. Resistances to the reform are not associated to the increasing costs, but rather due to difficulties and opacities.

Read it on DIVA


The Family Business Brand – Exploring Consumer Brand Association

Authors: Henok Hayle & Sanna Persson
Supervisor: Tomas Müllern

Motivation: The students propose a deep case study focused on the brand identity of family firms, suggesting the existence of a family firms’ reputational capital. The thesis deals with a topic that has received little attention and has not only theoretical relevance but is also important for practice. The contribution is solid and well written. Important insights are supported by theories and a valid use of quotation.


Performance of Swedish listed family-firms

Author: Andreas Rasku
Supervisor: Agostino Manduchi

Motivation: The thesis is solid and well written, and presents a valid statistical analysis.The author addresses an important topic in the family business literature demonstrating that founding-family firms over-perform non-family firms in the Swedish listed marked, recognizing the importance of the founder CEO’s knowledge.



Family capital influence on the internationalization of family firms – A multiple case study of Swedish Family Firms

Authors: Xin Liu, Modestas Musteikis, & David-Robert Schröder
Tutor: Imran Nazir

Motivation: The thesis deals with a relevant topic for family business research. The authors discuss the influence of the family toward the internationalization of the company in terms of human, social and financial capital. The contribution well written and provides interesting insights that support existing theories.



Succession intentions in ethnic family businesses with emphasis on transfer of tacit knowledge and social capital

Authors: Petra Vretenar & Soukaina Lamrani
Supervisor: Mattias Nordqvist

Motivation: The thesis addresses an interesting and rather new topic subject of relevance for family firms succession. It is well written and favour a better understanding of ethnic minority family businesses. The study shows that ethnic minority entrepreneurs in Sweden do not want to pass on their business to next generation and the perceived no involvement of the ethnic community in any aspect of the business. The findings encourage future researches on the topic.

These awards have been made possible through a donation from Henry and Sylvia Toft Foundation, with the purpose of supporting the development and dissemination of knowledge of family owned firms.


Just like a marriage? Success factors in the relationship between the non-family CEO and the owner family

Authors: Martin Steffan Pinhack and Mattias Christian Waldkirch
Supervisor: Annika Hall

Motivation: The master thesis deals with an interesting subject of relevance for family firms. It is solid and well written, and it provides important insights by supporting theories with a valid use of quotation in a deep case study in the context of family firms.


After the ground stopped shaking: socioemotional wealth and social capital in post-disaster recovery of small business (Master Thesis)

Authors: Rocky Adiguna and Abshir Sharif
Supervisor: Lucia Naldi

Motivation: The master thesis is ambitious and well written, and presents a valid statistical analysis. It challenges different theories and introduces an interesting new theoretical model to discuss small family firms re-start after a natural disaster.


A cultural extension on familiness. A case study on Spendrups Bryggeri AB

Authors: Anders Erikson, Jonatan Ovall, Arvid Scheller
Supervisor: Anders Melander

Motivation: The bachelor thesis present a solid theoretical framework in the family business literature. It is interesting and well written, and it provides a good qualitative research approach based on a very deep interview process.

These awards have been made possible through a donation from Henry and Sylvia Toft Foundation, with the purpose of supporting the development and dissemination of knowledge of family owned firms.

Laura Bauske and Merve Beyza Kubilay

Laura Bauske and Merve Beyza Kubilay, Best Thesis Award 2022