New Doctoral Thesis on Family Business

Jenny Helin successfully defended her doctoral thesis, titled “Living Moments in Family Meetings – a process study in the family business context” at Jönköping International Business School on 13 May 2011.

The thesis is based on an in-depth study of two Swedish family businesses. It examines how an owning family can organize itself in meetings to discuss issues related to both its business and family matters. These so-called family meetings have proven to be important, not just to develop good family relationships but also for the survival of the company.

“There is so much to learn from family businesses in terms of how to act like a responsible owner. In addition to running their business, the families work, often in quiet, at being responsible, long-term and active owners”, says Jenny Helin.

Existing research in this area has focused primarily on the results of these meetings, but Jenny Helin concentrates instead on how decisions, understandings and new ideas emerge in the interaction between family members.

“I have examined how the owner families can have meetings to discuss long-term important issues.” says Jenny Helin. “In particular, I focused on the dialogue in these meetings, the processes in order to arrive at a decision. It is in these moments, which I call “living moments”, that change, new perspectives and new ways of working are developed and realized.”

Faculty opponent was Professor John Shotter, University of New Hampshire (USA). Examining committee was Professor Alexander Styhre, University of Gothenburg, School of Business, Economics and Law, Professor Denise Fletcher, University of Luxembourg and Professor Mona Ericson, Jönköping International Business School. Chair of the defence was Professor Leif Melin, Jönköping International Business School.

Download the dissertation (pdf)