Internal corporate venturing in multi-generational family enterprises: A conceptual model

Justin B. Craig*, Robert Garrett, Clay Dibrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This definition focuses on the attitudes of the various family members toward the future ownership and management of the business, attempting to transcend quantitative measures characteristic of other definitions. In line with Kelly, Athanassiou, and Crittenden (2000), the definition is grounded in the notion of family ownership and control along with the desire to pass on the entity to future generations. Family enterprises that desire to grow – whether for the objective of generating more profit or for offering greater employment opportunities for family members – face the same challenges as those confronted by large diversified firms attempting to venture (Brockhaus, 1994). However, there is comparatively little research that has attempted to examine venturing from the perspective of family enterprises (Kellermanns & Eddleston, 2006; Marchisio et al., 2010; Salvato, 2004; Ying-Juan, Shao-Chi, & Li-Yu, 2010; Zahra, Hayton, & Salvato, 2004). Drawing on stewardship theory, we contribute to this conversation by positioning stewardship climate as a positive enhancer of family enterprises’ willingness to successfully engage in ICVs in order to sustain the multi-generational family. Specifically, we propose that stewardship climate will positively moderate the parent-venture relatedness to venture autonomy relationship. With a particular contextual emphasis on established multi-generational family enterprises in this chapter, we suggest that the dynamics of family produce a very unique context to investigate what types of ICVs are pursued, how they are pursued, and how governance mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that there is a contribution to the transgenerational sustainability of the business. By firmly couching our arguments related to internal venturing in stewardship theory, this research provides a more complete picture of an unexplored aspect of entrepreneurship in the family firm. This chapter is structured as follows. First, our theoretical setting is introduced through an overview of stewardship theory. When deciding how to frame our article, we elected to commit to stewardship theory, though acknowledge recent discussions related to the appropriateness of stewardship and agency perspectives being valid and having application under different circumstances (see, for example, Le Breton Miller, Miller, & Lester, 2011; Le Breton Miller, & Miller, 2009). We proceed to frame our arguments in extant family enterprise and internal corporate venturing literature. Propositions are distilled and included in our conceptual model before a discussion of the implications of our research closes the chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFamily Entrepreneurship
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking the Research Agenda
EditorsKathleen Randerson, Cristina Bettinelli, Giovanna Dossena, Alain Fayolle
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781317554813, 9781317554820
ISBN (Print)9781138841192
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


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