Small Business Economics

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 1087–1122 | Cite as

An entrepreneurial process perspective on succession in family firms

  • Mattias Nordqvist
  • Karl Wennberg
  • Massimo Bau’
  • Karin Hellerstedt


We review and analyze previous literature on succession in family firms from an entrepreneurial process perspective. Through a three-step cluster analysis of 117 published articles on succession in family firms published between 1974 and 2010, we find several themes within which succession can be understood from an entrepreneurial process perspective where both the entry of new owners and exit of old owners are associated with the pursuit of new business opportunities. We identify gaps within each cluster and develop a set of research questions that may guide future research on succession as an entrepreneurial process. Since succession involves implications for individuals, families and firms, we suggest researchers should adopt a multilevel perspective as they seek answers to these research questions. Our review and analysis also underlines the need to focus on ownership transition rather than only management succession, and the importance of carefully defining both succession and family firm.


Succession Ownership transition Family firms Entrepreneurial process Opportunity recognition Literature review 

JEL Classifications

L21 L 25 L26 M10 M21 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from The Swedish Research Council and Lars Erik Lundbergs Foundation. Mattias Nordqvist would also like to acknowledge the support from Carl-Olof and Jenz Hamrin Foundation.


Asterisk preceding a reference given in the Reference List indicates that the article is one of the 125 articles included in this review

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mattias Nordqvist
    • 1
  • Karl Wennberg
    • 2
    • 3
  • Massimo Bau’
    • 1
  • Karin Hellerstedt
    • 1
  1. 1.Jönköping International Business SchoolJönköpingSweden
  2. 2.Stockholm School of EconomicsStockholmSweden
  3. 3.The Ratio InstituteStockholmSweden

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