The Digital Family Business? Family Ownership, Family Management, and Digital Adoption

Document Type

Conference Object


Business | Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations

Publication Details

Presented at ISBE Conference, 14 November 2019, Hosted by Northumbria and Newcastle Universities, in Newcastle, United Kingdom.

28/04./2022 - Downloading of paper removed per author's request.


The advent of Industry 4.0 emphasises the potential importance of digital adoption for sustained competitiveness. Using survey data of 6,500 UK micro-businesses firms we consider the effect of family ownership and control on digital technology adoption. Firstly, we generally find little evidence of a direct effect of family ownership and control on adoption decision-making. Second, network and collaborative linkages are strongly associated with digital adoption as suggested in epidemic models of technology diffusion. Third, there is strong evidence that firm-level characteristics (rank effects) and others’ prior adoption (stock effects) influence whether firms adopt digital technology, although this decision is not influenced by prior adoption of other digital technologies (learning-by-using effects). Finally, extending the standard adoption models, we find strong evidence that family ownership and control moderates how firms respond to the anticipated returns of digital adoption. In order to encourage digital adoption among micro-businesses, developing networking and information sharing mechanisms which can improve knowledge diffusion seem an obvious policy opportunity in particular for family owned and controlled firms.

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