NC1030: Sustainable Families, Firms and Communities in Times of Change

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

NC1030: Sustainable Families, Firms and Communities in Times of Change

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

The focus of NC 1030 has been on family firms and policy for over a decade. Our research team has published research that documents the role of interactions and exchanges of resources between firm, family, and community. The team has conducted a panel study that enabled the tracking of businesses over a 10-year period and is presently engaged in a fourth wave of data collection concerning family business survival and response to non-normative disruptions. The results of our previous work has led to important understandings about interactions of the family and family firm, new insights into survival and demise of firms, and development of the Sustainable Family Business (SFB) theory. The SFB theory postulates that the family and family firms are constantly interacting, and that each contributes in vital ways to the sustainability of the other when disruptions occur outside of the system. NC 1030 is now poised to take another step in the development of family firm theory by studying the family and firm as they respond to non-normative disruptions. These non-normative occurrences are usually events that originate outside of the family and business system, but substantially impact business success.  Examples of non-normative disruptions include large scale occurrences like an economic recession, or more slow-motion factors such as demographic and technological change.


Recent research efforts by members of the NC 1030 group have addressed family firms’ response to natural disasters (Marshall & Schrank, 2014; Marshall, Niehm, Sydnor, & Schrank, 2015). In the proposed new wave of research, we will extend our focus to include economic, environmental, social, community, and technological disruptions. Our central research questions focus on four categories of impacts due to non-normative disruptions as follows: 1) what are the sources of disruptions on the family firm? 2) what are the impacts of the disruptions on the family firm? 3) what are the impacts of disruptions on the communities in which these firms reside, and 4) how do family firms respond in an entrepreneurial manner to disruptions? Accordingly, the SFB framework will support examination of the interdependence between the family firm and their communities. The addition of Flora’s Community Capitals framework (2008) will also aid in understanding the community impacts of family firms’ entrepreneurial response in regard to the above noted scope of disruptions. 


Morris’ (2010, 1998) framework of entrepreneurial capabilities will also be employed to provide insight into the types of entrepreneurial behaviors most effectively utilized by family-owned firms. In a recently completed rural poll conducted by the University of Nebraska (Vogt, Burkhart- Kriesel, Cantrell, & Lubben, 2014), jobs and economic opportunities were identified among the top three essential elements for a thriving community. This was true in 2014 and has remained consistent since the 2002 poll. If rural communities are to remain in place, strong, and supportive of their citizens, those communities must offer economic opportunities in terms of small businesses, entrepreneurship, and jobs.  In turn, small family-owned firms must be able to provide entrepreneurial and creative response to both opportunities and to disruptive events in their community environment. 


At the heart of the economic sector in many, if not all, communities is the family business. A family business is defined as a commercial entity in which there is family involvement in the decision-making, leadership, and operational aspects of the business (Chua, Chrisman, & Sharma, 1999). Other defining factors of a family business have included: “owner-manager has been in business for at least a year, worked at least six hours per week year-around or a minimum of 312 hours a year in the business, been involved in its day-to-day management, and resided with another family member (Winter, Fitzgerald, Heck, Haynes, & Danes, 1998, p. 239).” Family firms make a major contribution to United States production and employment as most small businesses are family businesses. Family businesses are a main contributor—sometimes the only contributor—to the income of business-owning families. Not only do these businesses sustain the owning family, but the families are also key supporters of the local economy in terms of workers, capital, management, and entrepreneurial capabilities.


The proposed new focus for the NC 1030 research group is also guided by the recently released USDA Science - Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Action Plan (2014). The plan called for the USDA and its many partners to examine the drivers of decline for many rural communities. With a mission of creating a safe, sustainable, competitive food and fiber system and strong, healthy communities, families, and youth, the REE focuses on providing effective research, education, and extension in support of rural and community development. The REE outlined a goal of rural-urban interdependence and prosperity (p. 46) with a strategy to "establish the determinants of rural prosperity and develop indicators to measure regional assets and performance." One actionable way identified to achieve this was by producing "new information on the drivers of rural business innovation and growth...through a national survey of rural business establishments.” In its report, the REE identified the fact that rural America has seen, and would continue to see, enormous changes.


Rural communities, and the family-owned businesses that reside there, face a multitude of overlapping and interrelated sources of change and disruption. The mainstay of many rural communities, agriculture, involves fewer people to produce increasingly higher yields. Other traditional rural industries, such as forestry and fishing, are also seeing increased foreign competition and fewer opportunities. Similarly, rural manufacturing, something many communities turned to in earlier years, faces globalization and a situation where these communities no longer have advantages over world players. Some communities have found opportunities while others have not, losing their economic strength and population. With this loss, further erosion of the economic base continues among the retail and service sectors. The recent economic recession has increased the need to better understand rural business ownership. Rural communities, because of higher commodity prices, did not initially show as much impact from the economic downturn. However, as the downturn continued, employment losses were slightly larger in rural areas and the rebound has lagged behind that of more urban communities (Kellogg Foundation, 2003).  Subsequently, the growth in numbers of small rural businesses remains low and existing businesses have experienced limited growth (Hertz, Kusmin, Marre, & Parker, 2014).


In this project renewal, we aim to further the understanding of family business enterprises and how they influence the strength and survival of communities, particularly those in rural areas. The work will also identify the gaps in existing research.  To do so, we build on previous work by the NC 1030 Family Business Research Group. NC 1030 has developed one of the few longitudinal studies of family businesses, the National Family Business Panel (NFBP).  The NC 1030 group also has panel datasets focused on small business disaster recovery that includes business, family characteristics, and community characteristics. The design of the proposed study builds on previous work of the NC 1030 group and captures the dynamics between the business, family, and community—an understanding that is crucial to inform rural development and foster sustainable communities. This project renewal will add an additional wave of data to the NFBP and add enhanced understanding of community impacts and the entrepreneurial behavior of small family-owned firms.  Building on our past research waves, these family-owned businesses have been followed for over a decade (1996 to 2007), a period of time that covers a growing economy.  This proposed project will extend findings from the aforementioned waves of the NFBP to create new knowledge regarding family business survival, sustainability, and entrepreneurial response under conditions of change, with special emphasis on the challenges of small family firms operating in rural communities. For the purposes of NC 1030, small firms are defined as those with 200 or fewer employees. Small firms generally have a lower success rate than larger firms and are inherently riskier enterprises. Rural communities are more dependent on small enterprises than are urban communities. Therefore, ascertaining what is associated with the sustainability of family-owned firms is particularly important for rural America. Conversely, the well-being of rural communities and their citizens is closely linked to the health of locally owned family firms.


When considering the business sector, it is often viewed as a single homogenous group. Yet, this is far from reality. There are many ways that it can be segmented. Probably one of the most important, but less recognized, segments of the business community is family businesses. Family-owned firms comprise the majority of firms in the United States (Heck & Stafford, 2001), and the economy depends on them. They represent over 90 percent of all employer firms and employ more than half of all private sector employees. They have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years and over half of the non-farm private gross domestic product (Kobe, 2007).


Family businesses, contribute a major portion of the country's production, employment and income.  In rural communities, the prevalence of family businesses is disproportionately higher than in more urban settings. Family businesses are often key contributors in the support of the owners and their families plus provide job opportunities for non-family members and, bring dollars into the community (Kobe, 2007). Family businesses not only provide the economic base for many communities, they may offer leadership and financial support for community projects, civic clubs, and other local organizations. Family businesses can add desired products and services, foster local pride, and contribute to the quality of life, thus making the community even more attractive for additional business opportunities and in-migration (Henderson, 2002).


Family businesses are the result of three systems, business, community, and family, all of which can contribute to or detract from each other. Support among these systems in bi-directional with each having some ability to influence the success of the others. For example, the survival and success of any family owned business can be threatened by what happens in the owning family, especially through the health and behavior of its members. Likewise, the success of the family is somewhat dependent upon the success of the family business if for nothing other than family financial support and employment opportunities, something scarce in some rural communities (Stafford, Duncan, Danes, & Winter, 1999; Danes, Lee, Stafford, & Heck, 2008). Not only does it mean the possibility of a job, but in the long term, business transition allows for family members to return home and establish careers. Finally, both the family and the business have and are influenced by community variables. The business may employ community members and contribute to community leadership and amenities. Similarly, the family may take on leadership roles in the community.


The proposed research is informed by the SFB theory. The SFB theory enables researchers to examine the interface between the family and the business within the context of community (Stafford, et al., 1999; Danes, et al., 2008). Recognition is given to family, business, and community systems, and how the interplay between systems helps to achieve sustainability (Stafford et al., 1999). When change occurs, either inside or outside a system, a re-evaluation of resources of the family business must be made. A unique feature of the SFB theory is the ability to ascertain how family and business systems respond to disruptions in regular patterns by exchanging resources across systems (Winter & Morris, 1998; Olson, Zuiker, Danes, Stafford, Heck, & Duncan, 2003). Therefore, the theory enables researchers to explore how family businesses respond to changing economic conditions, as in the case of a recession, by considering resources and resource exchange of all kinds (e.g. financial, human capital, social networks, natural amenities). For example, during difficult economic times, those involved in a family business may seek outside employment to provide additional income for the family, enlist the help of unpaid family workers in the business to assist with operations, or seek out new business strategies to meet the financial needs of both the business and the family, perhaps by increasing the market for retail products by adding internet sales or marketing through the use of social media. The SFB theory also recognizes that different processes occur in each system during times of stability and change (Danes, Reuter, Kwon, & Doherty, 2002; Stewart & Danes, 2001). These kinds of systematic responses create a capacity of resilience in the face of disruptions which helps family-owned businesses remain “healthy” in response to disruptions (Danes, Zuiker, Kean, & Arbuthnot, 1999; Danes et al., 2002). 


Similarly, NC 1030 is interested in the community characteristics that foster healthy family-owned businesses and the interactions between these two entities.  For this reason, Flora’s (2008) Community Capitals framework will aid in our exploration of entrepreneurial and sustainable communities, focusing on seven distinct types of capital: natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial and built. We aim to examine the role that each form of capital plays in community economic development, and how they can form resources useful to family firm survival.   Morris’ framework (2013, 1998) of entrepreneurial capabilities (e.g. resource leveraging, risk mitigation, opportunity recognition) will also provide a means for examining the behaviors and response of family businesses to various sources of non-normative disruption and change.


The proposed project is highly feasible as demonstrated by past research accomplishments of the NC 1030 group.  Together these researchers have collected three waves of data and contributed significantly to the family business literature (Fitzgerald, Haynes, Schrank, & Danes, 2010; Heck & Stafford, 2001; Lee & Marshall, 2013; Niehm, Miller, Shelley, & Fitzgerald, 2009; Olson et al., 2003; Stafford, Danes, & Haynes, 2013; Stafford et al., 1999). Over time, we have extensively addressed family and business domains and the challenges of managing the overlapping and interrelated demands between the two entities. More recent work has looked at management of overlapping family and business demands in the context of natural disasters (Marshall & Schrank, 2014; Marshall et al., 2015).  NC 1030 team members recently collaborated and received an NCRCRD grant to examine rural family business response and survival under economic recessionary conditions (Niehm, Muske, & Fitzgerald, 2015). This NCRCRD grant will provide preliminary data for this proposed larger study, as well as for several large scale grant proposal submissions planned for the new project period.  In these new activities, NC 1030 will address a broader scope of non-normative disruptions, such as economic recession, demographic and technological change, and family businesses response to these sources of disruptions or changes.


It is not clear what factors may allow family businesses to effectively sustain operation during challenging recessionary periods, or if their performance differed by disruptions associated with rural community economic and demographic factors. The Kellogg Foundation’s study of rural entrepreneurship (2003) suggests that “home-grown”, locally and regionally focused small businesses are a critical piece of rural economic development. The data and knowledge provided by the proposed project would yield valuable policy and strategic information to support family owned businesses, explicate the interdependence between rural communities where they operate, and identify factors that support the success and sustainability of small family-owned firms. The proposed project will make possible comparisons of rural communities by economic base (e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, tourism), by type of rural businesses (e.g. service, retail, manufacturing), as well as rural versus urban family-owned businesses.


This proposed project also will address the call from the USDA Science - REE Action Plan (2014) for a national survey of rural business establishments. The overarching goal of the proposed project is to better understand the dynamics of decisions, practices and processes that allow rural family-owned businesses and their communities to sustain or grow despite disruptive circumstances and recessionary downturns.   The NC 1030 research team will also examine the entrepreneurial strategies of family-owned businesses, how these businesses negotiate the drivers of change, and investigate how communities can facilitate these efforts. In this regard, the proposed project will have the cross-cutting capacity to inform policy and programming for family firms, rural community development, economic development, and business assistance for rural entrepreneurs and their communities.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Related, Current, and Previous Work


This section reports work on related previous work on family firms.  The types of change and disruption that impacts the family, family firms or the community will be documented.  This section also reports response to the positive and negative impacts of change and disruption of the family, the family business, or the community.  In this section, an overview of previous studies regarding policy and the sustainability of family firms is also presented. 


Rural Community Issues:


The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (2002) identified the need for rural business ownership as a means to add jobs, raise income, create wealth, improve the quality of life of citizens, and generally help rural communities. Similar findings have been offered by Henderson, Low, and Weiler (2007) and Walzer, Athiyaman, and Hamm (2007) who identified that small businesses are a factor in generating employment for a community.  In its call for Multi-State Rural Development Research or Extension projects, the North Central Region identified its objective as enhancing the ability of Land Grant institutions to positively influence the quality of life in rural areas. The call is based on four priority areas, two of which focus on sustainable communities and entrepreneurial communities. Issues identified that pertain to community sustainability include the decline of the rural population along with a change in the economic base, especially manufacturing, but includes also the retail and service sectors which are largely comprised of family owned businesses.


This project proposal builds on the recently released USDA Science - Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Action Plan (2014).  The plan called for the USDA and its many partners to examine root causes of the downslide of rural communities. One actionable way identified to achieve this was by producing "new information on the drivers of rural business innovation and growth...through a national survey of rural business establishments” (p. 46). In its report, REES identified the fact that rural America has seen, and would continue to see, enormous changes. The mainstay of many rural areas, agriculture, involves fewer people to produce increasingly higher yields. Other traditional rural industries, such as forestry and fishing, are also seeing increased foreign competition and fewer opportunities. The plan acknowledges that some communities have found opportunities while others have not or are losing their economic strength and population. With this loss, further erosion of the economic base continues among the retail and service sectors. Rural areas, because of higher commodity prices, did not initially show as much recessionary impact.  However, as the downturn continued, employment losses were slightly larger in rural areas and the rebound has lagged behind that of more urban communities.  Subsequently, the growth in numbers of small rural businesses remains low and existing businesses have experienced limited growth (Hertz et al., 2014).


Family Businesses Contributions in Rural Communities:


Family businesses are the heart of the American economy. In rural communities, the prevalence of family businesses is disproportionately higher than in more urban settings. Family businesses are often key contributors in the support of the owners and their families plus provide job opportunities for non-family members and, bring dollars into the community (Kobe, 2007). Family businesses not only provide the economic base for many communities, they may offer leadership and financial support for community projects, civic clubs, and other local organizations. Family businesses can add desired products and services, foster local pride, and contribute to the quality of life, making the community even more attractive for additional business opportunities and in-migration (Henderson, 2002). It is not clear what factors have allowed family businesses to effectively sustain operation during such challenging recessionary periods or if their performance differed by rural community economic and demographic factors. The Kellogg Foundation’s study of rural entrepreneurship (2003) suggests that “home-grown”, locally and regionally focused small businesses, are a critical piece of rural economic development.


Entrepreneurship in Rural Areas:


Rural entrepreneurship is qualitatively different from urban entrepreneurship. These differences stem from the very nature of rurality itself – small populations, geographic isolation, and proximity to a natural resource base – which impact the size and type of markets, labor force, social capital, and access to innovative knowledge and strategies. Rural areas are also characterized by higher poverty rates, lower educational attainment rates, less wealth, fewer government, health, and social services, and older populations (Brown & Schafft, 2011). Fortunato (2014) has argued as a result of these unique characteristics, the types of entrepreneurs found in rural areas do not readily conform to the traditional microeconomic understanding of firms as being solely focused on markets and profits. To date, policy efforts to encourage rural entrepreneurship development have been fragmented and met with mixed success (Lichtenstein & Lyons, 2001). In order to understand rural entrepreneurship development and encourage more sustainable forays into this arena for resource-limited rural communities, a clear grasp of individual- and community-level factors that promote and inhibit business start-up is vital. As rural community leaders consider local economic gardening efforts as a facet of ongoing economic development, the impacts and sustainability of the investments in entrepreneurial efforts are key. Research has shown that, over time, a high presence of independently owned, local businesses, statistically increases income and employment growth and decreases poverty rates in rural counties (Rupasingha & Goetz, 2013).


Community Capitals and Entrepreneurial Capabilities Frameworks:


An individual’s personal characteristics, including motivations, entrepreneurial orientation, and intentions, are important in understanding how and why people start businesses. This project considers economic activities as more complex, viewing the decisions as embedded in social and structural relationships (Granovetter, 1985; Portes & Sensenbrenner, 1993). This approach implies that consideration of an individual’s propensity to start a business is embedded in a set of relationships constituted by families, friends, and community. Communities in the context of this research project are defined geographically and conceptualized as complex social systems. This project uses the Community Capitals framework (Emery & Flora, 2006; Flora & Flora, 2008) which contends that communities possess seven capitals: human, social, cultural, political, built, natural, and financial. Each community possesses a given amount of assets (stock) of each capital and can experience changes in as well as interactions between capitals. Human capital is the collective skills, education, experience, and abilities of the community’s residents, including the characteristics of the paid and volunteer labor force and the community’s leaders. Social capital captures the connections between individuals and organizations. Social capital includes bonding capital (close, direct connections resulting in social cohesion) and bridging capital (weaker ties between internal and external organizations). Cultural capital refers to the traditions, language, music, and other elements of a locale’s culture as well as a community’s sense of attachment and connection to its geographic place. Political capital reflects the power structures in a community – which individuals, groups, or organizations have and wield power and which do not. Built capital is comprised of the physical infrastructure of the community including housing stock, commercial real estate, roads, utilities, communications infrastructure, and amenities like parks, libraries, and museums. Natural capital is derived from the community’s geographical location, such as isolation, natural resources, and weather. Financial capital includes the public and private financial resources available to the community for community development and activities and for generating a surplus for future investments. These capitals are conceptualized as distinctive but have regions of overlap and interaction. This framework provides a way to evaluate a community’s strengths and deficits with respect to the entrepreneurial efforts of family owned businesses and to measure impacts over time. Entrepreneurial activities are embedded within the community’s context. The community context, seen through the lens of the Community Capitals framework, provides a maze of supports, barriers, and opportunities which family business owners must navigate in order to start a business.


We also will draw from the work of Morris (1998), Morris, Kuratko, and Covin (2010), and Morris, Webb, Fu, and Singhal (2013) regarding entrepreneurial competencies.  Competencies are distinguished as specific behaviors or approaches needed to successfully engage with one’s environment.  This environment could be a business market, an organization, or a community context. To identify and explain specific entrepreneurial behaviors that lead to success and sustainability for family owned firms in rural communities, we will employ a framework developed by Morris et al (2010) of 13 entrepreneurial competencies. The competency framework includes: opportunity recognition, opportunity assessment, risk management/mitigation, conveying a compelling vision, tenacity/perseverance, creative problem solving, resource leveraging/bootstrapping, guerilla skills, value creation, adaptability, resiliency, self-efficacy, and building and using networks.


Sustainable Family Business Theory:


The Sustainable Family Business (SFB) theory provides a conceptual framework for this proposed project to identify and measure the sources of change and disruption and to ascertain how family and business systems respond to change and disruptions (Olson et al., 2003).  The SFB theory was introduced in 1999 and has provided the theoretical base to guide NC 1030 research projects in family business and an application of the theory to small family business owners (Stafford et al., 1999; Danes, Loy, & Stafford 2008; Danes et al., 2008). The SFB theory suggests that the sustainability of a family business is a function of both business success and family functionality during times of disruption (Stafford et al., 1999; Winter & Morris, 1998). The family and business are involved in constant interaction and each contributes in vital ways to the sustainability of the other. Giving equal recognition to family and business and the interplay between them is important in achieving mutual sustainability (Stafford, et al., 1999).


The SFB theory tracks accumulation of human, social, and financial capital and the access and use of those capital stocks over time (Danes, Stafford, & Loy, 2007; Danes et al., 2008). This theory provides a way to evaluate family business owners in managing family and business resources and incorporating additional resources, and to assess how interpersonal transactions can facilitate or hinder the sustainability of family businesses (Danes, Haynes, & Haynes, in press). These kinds of systematic responses create a capacity of resilience in the face of changes and disruptions and help family businesses sustain both the family and business over time (Danes, Stafford, Haynes, & Amarapurkar, 2009; Danes et al., 2002). The capacity for resilience is established through three processes: family functionality, cognitive predisposition for scheduling congruity, and pattern of adjusting to disruptions (Stafford et al., 1999). The SFB theory states that different processes occur in each system during times of stability and change (Danes et al., 2002; Stewart & Danes, 2001). When disruption occurs either inside or outside the system of family and business, a re-evaluation of the family business’s resources or exchanging resources across systems must take place (Danes et al., 2002; Stewart & Danes, 2001). The findings of the proposed project will guide and inform policy and practices that enhance the sustainability of the family, the firm, and the community within the social and economic context in times of change.  


Previous Research by NC 1030 on Family Firms:


Family business success has been defined in terms of sustainability, productivity, and long-term survival (Danes et al., 2002; Danes et al., 1999; Lee, Jasper, & Fitzgerald, 2010). To operationalize the construct, researchers have used outcome measures such as financial indicators (e.g., sales, profit, and growth), subjective assessments of success, and long-term survival rates (Kalleberg & Leicht, 1991). Success and survival have been documented in previous studies conducted by NC 1030 (Olson et al., 2003). There have been several studies that examined the business success and survival among family-owned businesses (Duncan & Stafford, 2001; Duncan, Zuiker, & Heck, 2000; Lee & Marshall, 2013; Danes & Olson, 2008; Stafford, Bhargava, Danes, Haynes, & Brewton, 2010). While looking at the family and business as two overlapping systems, it has been noted that when women owned the business, or when the business is operated at home, it is crucial for family business owners to deal with how to balance work and family (Avery, Haynes, & Haynes, 2000; Duncan & Stafford, 2001; Duncan et al., 2000). Women’s involvement in family businesses was positively related to business success (Danes & Olson, 2008; Danes et al., 2007, Lee et al., 2010), and gender was an important factor in predicting the long-term survival of family businesses (Stafford et al., 2010). Small family-owned businesses headed by women were more likely to succeed than those headed by men (Haynes, Danes, & Stafford, 2011). Tensions among family members were negatively associated with family business success (Danes & Olson, 2008; Danes & Amarapurkar, 2001). Masuo, Fong, Yanagida, and Cabal (2001) presented that there was a significant difference in business success between single manager and dual manager family business households.


The success of a family firm is dependent upon functionalities of families and sustainability of the firm.  Olson et al. (2003) indicated that business success was influenced more by family factors than business factors. Business continuity is influenced by family decisions and life events and owner resiliency is an important element that could determine business survival (Winter, Danes, Koh, Fredericks, & Paul, 2004).  The sustainability of a family business requires both family and business contributions to achieve business success and performance. Lee and Marshall (2013) pointed out that the goals of the family business owners are crucial in determining the business success and profitability within the family business.  The age of owner and lack of work and management experience decreased firm success, while education, management skills, and more work experience increased firm success (Lee et al., 2010; Olson et al., 2003; Rowe, Haynes, & Bentley, 1993).  Firm success increased when family members provided labor and emotional support to the owner (Danes & Lee, 2004; Danes & Morgan, 2004). Competing demands between family and business were negatively associated with the success of family firms (Danes, Haberman, & McTavish, 2005), as were conflict between family members and tension levels within the firms (Amarapurkar & Danes, 2005; Danes & Olson, 2003; Danes et al., 1999).  Family dynamics influenced the success of family firms (Masuo et al., 2001), and higher levels of family functionality were positively associated with firm success (Duncan, Stafford, & Zuiker, 2003).


Family response to conflicting demands has been found to impact firm success (Olson et al., 2003). Adjustment strategies are coping strategies that can be adopted by small business owners during hectic times (Fitzgerald, Winter, Miller, & Paul, 2001; Winter & Morris, 1998). Responses to disruptions, such as increasing demands in one system, leads to change in the other system in order to cope with overlapping family and business demands (Niehm, et al., 2009).  During hectic times, some adjustments to meet family or business needs are necessary (Miller, Fitzgerald, Winter & Paul, 1999; Fitzgerald et al., 2001). Once adjustment strategies have been deemed as useful or productive in helping to meet family, and/or business needs and/or goals, they become patterned responses to cope with disruptions.  When business owners are under pressure, the usual ways of running the business may not suffice, so they develop coping strategies to return to homeostasis, often by using resources from either the family or the business system. These strategies are important to small family business owners in balancing the complex demands of both work and family (Paul, Winter, Miller, & Fitzgerald, 2003).  Olson, et al. (2003) reported that for family firms, how owning families respond to disruptions had more impact on business income and perceived business success than did family resources, constraints and processes.


Research on use of family adjustment strategies in family-owned businesses has been based on data from the National Family Business Survey (NFBS) which is the first large-scale study to measure the family-business overlap of resources (Fitzgerald et al., 2001; Miller et al., 1999; Miller, Winter, Fitzgerald, & Paul, 2000; Haynes, Rowe, Walker, & Hong, 2000; Winter et al., 1998).  Employing data from the 2003 and 2005 National Minority Business Owners Survey, Lee, Fitzgerald, Bartkus, & Lee (2015) also examined the extent to which minority business owners differ from non-minority business owners in the relationship between the use of adjustment strategies and perceived business success. There was a link between the use of adjustment strategies and perceived success among minority family business owners. However, only three strategies (reallocation of family resources, reallocation of business resources, and hiring paid help) increased success in minority-owned family firms (Lee et al., 2015). In another study, there were significant gender differences in the adoption of adjustment strategies among minority-owned family firms, indicating that minority female business owners were more likely to reallocate family resources to help with business tasks and intertwine both tasks than minority male business owners (Lee, Fitzgerald, & Bartkus, in press). Variables found to influence adjustments during hectic times were family and business size, number of roles the manager was fulfilling in the family and business, age and education of the family and business managers, family income, whether the business was home-based, and whether the family was entrepreneurial.


Natural disasters can cause temporary closures for small businesses and eventually contribute to business survival. Disaster experiences and the post-disruption decisions of families are important to firm continuance (Marshall & Schrank, 2014).  There is a need to understand small business recovery from the perspective of those that tried, but failed to recover (Schrank, Marshall, Hall-Phillips, Wiatt, & Jones, 2013). Marshall and Schrank (2014) presented a research framework for small business disaster recovery, and pointed out that owner attachment to community is an important element in predicting business survival, because it influences decisions about continuing or relocating their firms after the disruption.  Marshall, Niehm, Sydnor, and Schrank (2015) investigated what pre-existing factors were associated with the demise of family firms after Katrina. For example, what post-disaster characteristics separated those small businesses that continued operating from those that terminated? Disaster impacts on the owner, the owner’s small business and the family were associated with the severity of damage and business mitigation plans prior to Katrina. Business impacts included economic impacts such as length of time closed, loss of suppliers and customers, amount of physical damage, and post-disaster revenues and firm sales (Marshall et al., 2015). Schrank, Josephson, and Marshall (in review) examined preparation of small businesses for hurricane disasters, and they found that business size, prior experience with disasters, property ownership, gender, and education of the owner were related with hurricane disaster preparation activities. Factors such as mandated insurance, local zoning, commercial versus home-based locations, and proximity were also associated with small business preparation for hurricane disasters preparation activities.  Josephson and Marshall (in review) examined the demand for post-Katrina disaster aid, while examining the role of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans after Hurricane Katrina.  The findings suggest that there were several characteristics that increased application for a loan, indicating that the income of the business, the damage incurred from the hurricane, and the gender of the business owner were associated with the stages of the loan process (Josephson & Marshall, in review). 


The survival and success of family firms can be influenced by families and their communities.  The impact of community resources on business survival has been addressed by previous NC 1030 research (Fiore, Niehm, Oh, Jeong, & Hausafus, 2007; Haynes, Muske, Fitzgerald, & Fong, 2005; Niehm, Swinney, & Miller, 2006). However, NC 1030’s past work did not cover how family and community functions may influence the success and survival of family firms. Examining community context, sustainability of family firms, and firms’ performance during recessionary periods have also not examined in previous projects. A comprehensive look at the entrepreneurial behavior or practices used by small businesses in times of change and disruption has not been reported.  It is important to understand the barriers for entrepreneurs in rural areas. What economic and demographic factors in rural communities are associated with the sustainability of family firms and communities during challenging recessionary periods?  What are the motivations of small business owners for entrepreneurship in rural communities?  Change and disruption, such as economic recession and others, will influence the sustainability of both family and business systems. The proposed project focuses on the business-community relationship, entrepreneurship development, and business ownership in rural communities.

Objectives

  1. Identify and measure the sources of change and disruption that impact the family/household, the family firm, or the community.
  2. Identify and measure responses to the positive and negative impacts of change and disruption on the family/household, the family business, or the community.
  3. Determine and inform policy or practice related to family firms.

Methods

Methods and Data Analysis

The Sustainable Family Business Model (SFBM) was developed by NC 1030 and is the theoretical foundation for majority of the group’s research. NC 1030 created a panel dataset (National Family Business Survey (NFBS)) of family business owners that were interviewed in 1997, 2000 and 2007. These family business owners will be interviewed again in 2016. The 2016 data collection is possible due to USDA support through a project funded by the North Central Rural Development Center (NCRCRD), titled “Family Business Contributions to Sustainable and Entrepreneurial Rural Communities over Time”. The NC 1030 group will participate in survey design and data analysis for the new wave of the NFBS.

In addition to the NFBS panel data, data sets from projects funded by AFRI, USAID, and the USDA-NSF Small Business Disaster Recovery and Demise (SBDRD) grant will be utilized in the proposed project to explore objectives 1, 2 and 3.  The SBDRD data addresses response to change, risk tolerance, and perceptions of community resilience after a major disruption.  The AFRI and USAID data sets were developed using the Sustainable Livelihoods Strategies Model (Valdivia, Dozi, Jeanetta, Flores, Martinez, & Dannerbeck, 2008) for rural contexts in the Midwest and in developing countries (Valdivia, Seth, Gilles, García, Jiménez, Cusicanqui, Navia, & Yucra, 2010) to understand what contributes to wealth creation and wellbeing, in two changing contexts, immigration to rural communities in the Midwest, and climate change disruptions in Mountain regions.  The AFRI data set two household survey, a business and household information of 450 Latinos interviewed during the financial crisis of 2009; and a second data set of 500 Latino and non-Latino households interviewed between 2011 and 2013. Besides sustainable livelihood variables on livelihoods, activities, capitals and wellbeing, additional data capture the community climate and institutions that impact on the livelihoods of Latino newcomers, measuring acculturation and context of reception (Valdivia, Jeanetta, Flores, Morales, & Martinez, 2012).  The USAID data comprises 460 rural households engaged in farming and non-farming enterprises, and data on the impacts of shock events (normative and non-normative) on earnings, wellbeing, and resilience.

The NC 1030 group has experience gathering data on families, their firms and the interaction between them. This data includes information on finances and other resources, constraints and actions taken by families and family firms in response to a variety of disruptions. An assumption of SFBM is that change happens; therefore, families and family firms interact to adjust to change and to ensure the sustainability of both family and firm. The focus of the group has ranged from normative disruptions caused by life events such as death and divorce to non-normative disruptions such as regulatory changes (i.e. the Affordable Care Act) and natural disasters. The group is expanding its research methods to gather information on how the community interacts with families and family firms to overcome these changes and disruptions.

This section describes three efforts focused on family businesses and their owning families in the context of community and under the condition of various kinds of disruption. The methods reviewed in this proposal are dependent upon the aforementioned panel datasets from previous data collection efforts funded by the USDA-AFRI, USAID, National Science Foundation (NSF), and USDA-NCRCRD.

Objective 1 will be addressed by utilizing data from the three waves of the National Family Business Survey (NFBS) collected in 1997, 2000, and 2007 and a new wave of data collection effort sponsored by the USDA/NCRCRD that will take place in 2016. Both cross-sectional and panel studies will further examine business, family and community factors impacting the sustainability of family businesses. The AFRI and USAID data concerning Latino entrepreneurs, contributions to their communities, and sustainable livelihoods will also be addressed. Objective 2 will be addressed by utilizing changes in family, business and community variables in four waves of the NFBS panel data, the 2013-2015 data from the Small Business Disaster Recovery and Demise (SBDRD) project where additional questions on the response to change, measures of risk tolerance, and perceptions of community resilience after a major disruption are introduced, and the AFRI and USAID data concerning Latino entrepreneurs and their communities. Objective 3 will be addressed by utilizing the NSFB, SBDRD, AFRI, and USAID data datasets. The new project will allow the team to fully examine simultaneous disruptions to the family, business and community and assess public policy response at the family business level. It also enables the team to compare how changes and disruptions affect family businesses in rural and urban communities differently.

Data Analysis:

The team will work on data analysis and publications using NC 1030’s declaration system. The declaration system allows a member of the team to suggest (or declare) a theme for an article which includes the dependent variable of interest, the independent variables, and the econometric model that will be used. The declaration is then sent to the entire NC 1030 team to ask for input. The declaration system does two things, first it allows for the team to monitor what is happening with the data and second, it encourages collaboration among team members.

The team works very collaboratively. The team is divided into subgroups that focus on three research themes: 1) community and firm interaction, 2) family and firm interaction, and 3) family and community interaction after normative and non-normative changes and disruptions. In most cases, the team members work on more than one theme area.

The entire team will be involved in analyzing the data in these three subgroups, which would fulfill all three objectives. Data analysis methods will be similar for the first two objectives and we would expect that there would be policy implication from the research that would be disseminated. The two main datasets that will be used are panel datasets. Panel data are cross-sectional time-series data. Panel data allow us to control for variables that may not be observed or measured such as differences in business practices across family businesses or variables that change over time but not across firms such as national policies or federal regulations (Torres-Reyna 2007). Two frequently used econometric techniques when analyzing panel data are fixed effects and random effects. Our panel datasets are unbalanced as there are some firms that have data in some years but not in others. However, this is not a problem to be able to model the success outcomes for family businesses.

Although, the econometric methods used for the objectives may be similar, the dependent variables and the variables of interest (independent variables) may be very different depending on the subgroup that is focused on the problem. The econometric methods may range from ordinary least squares regressions using only the 2016 NSFB cross-sectional data to fixed effects multinomial logit regression using panel data from the SBDRD data. The dependent variables for Objective 1 may include measures of success such as profits and gross income for the family business, household income for the family, or community resilience for the community. The dependent variables for Objective 2 may include adaptive changes made by the family business, the family, or the community such as changes in preparation for a natural disaster or household communication strategies during the succession process. Research resulting from fulfilling Objectives 1, 2, and 3 will lead to important policy implications for not only families, family businesses, and communities, but also for policy makers, Extension educators, and family businesses practitioners.

Measurement of Progress and Results

Outputs

  • The fourth wave of National Family Business Survey data will provide a dataset that focuses on non-normative disruption occurring in family businesses and rural communities;
  • Enriching the SFB theory with the addition of Floras Community Capitals will enhance understanding of the interdependence between business and community sustainability
  • The enhanced Sustainable Family Business (SFB) theory will create a novel methodology with the capacity to measure non-normative disruptions in family businesses, their relationships to non-normative disruptions in the communities in which family and business reside, and how both disruptions impact the sustainability of family businesses.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • The ability to characterize factors of sustainability in family businesses can inform how family businesses plan for and implement sustainability strategies;
  • Our results will update understanding regarding comparisons of sustainable family in rural and urban settings. The findings will be important for informing public policy and aid to both rural and urban-located businesses;
  • The results of our research will have the capacity to create a community-business sustainability framework, emphasizing significant variables and new pathways by which community-business inter-dependencies can be studied by others.

Milestones

(0):Objective 1 will be addressed by utilizing data from the three waves of the NFBS collected in 1997, 2000, 2007 and a new wave of data collection that will take place in 2016. Both cross-sectional and panel studies will further examine business, family and community factors that impact the sustainability of family businesses. During the life of the technical committee, any investigator involved in the data collection or official members from stations that contributed money to the data collection may have access to the data collected. Those who have access to the data may co-author with anyone. At the end of the final year of the project, the technical committee will determine who has access to the data. Participants (official members, non-voting members) joining NC 1030 after September 30, 2006 will have access to the Wave 1,2,3,4 datasets for no fee. Public users may have access to the 1997, 2000 and/or 2007 NFBS datasets from www.montana.edu/extensionecon/project on familybusiness.html after completing required documentation (user email address, terms, proper acknowledgement) and returning it via email to the chair of the technical committee. Individuals who are not official members of the NC 1030 technical committee may use Small Business Survival and Demise After a Disaster (SBDRD) wave 1,2, 3 datasets and the AFRI, USAID Latino datasets only for work authorized by an individual who is an official member of NC 1030 and will not give the data in any form to anyone else.

(2016): The group will collaborate on the survey questions for a new wave of NFBS data and will be completed in 2016.

(2017): Declarations will be developed; grant writing team will be assembled for external grant submissions.

(2018): Data analyzed; manuscripts submitted; and external grants submitted.

(2019): Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals.

(20):Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. Objective 2 will be addressed by utilizing family, business and community variables in four waves of the NFBS, the 2013-2015 Small Business Disaster Recovery and Demise (SBDRD) panel data, and the AFRI and USAID data concerning Latino entrepreneurs and their communities. 2016: The group will collaborate on survey questions for the new wave of the NFBS data. The group will continue data analysis using the SBDRD data and manuscripts will be submitted. 2017: Research questions and data analyses will be presented in declarations. 2018: Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. 2019: Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. 2020: Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. Objective 3 will be addressed by utilizing the NFBS, SBDRD, and AFRI/USAID Latino panel datasets. The new project will allow the team to fully examine simultaneous disruptions to the family, business and community, and assess public policy response at the family business level. It will also allow the team to compare how changes and disruptions affect family businesses in rural and urban communities differently. 2017: Data analyzed; research findings presented at conferences; and manuscripts submitted to journals. 2018: Implications for policy identified; findings presented at conferences; and manuscripts submitted to journals. 2019: Research findings presented at conferences and manuscripts submitted to journals. 2020: White papers written to identify policy implications from the group work. 2016: The group will collaborate on survey questions for the new wave of the NFBS data. The group will continue data analysis using the SBDRD data and manuscripts will be submitted. 2017: Research questions and data analyses will be presented in declarations. 2018: Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. 2019: Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. 2020: Data analyzed; research findings presented in conferences; and manuscripts submitted to research journals. Objective 3 will be addressed by utilizing the NSFB, SBDRD, AFRI, and USAID data datasets. The new project will allow the team to fully examine simultaneous disruptions to the family, business and community and assess public policy response at the family business level. It also enables the team to compare how changes and disruptions affect family businesses in rural and urban communities differently. 2017: Data analyzed; research findings presented at conferences; and manuscripts submitted to journals. 2018: Implications for policy identified; findings presented at conferences; and manuscripts submitted to journals. 2019: Research findings presented at conferences and manuscripts submitted to journals. 2020: White papers written to identify policy implications from the group work.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Outreach Plan


The project will have multiple outreach outlets that reflect the diversity of the NC 1030 membership. Research findings will be shared through scholarly publications in research journals that span multiple disciplines, and will be presented at national and international conferences. Findings will be also published in extension, community development and policy journals, as well as outlets that reach community and public sector stakeholders. Results will offer information that will be useful to policy makers, businesses, and educators. Beyond academic audiences, materials will be posted in appropriate Extension communities of practice such as Entrepreneurs and their Communities. Lessons from research on non-normative impacts has implications useful to agencies, for example the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration. Lessons learned will be shared with these agencies and local communities through such means as informational websites, news releases, Extension publications, and publications of professional organizations such as Choices published by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, and Webinars, such as C-FARE, NCERA, and a webinar for the NCRCRD to share findings from grant funding.


NC 1030 research will be presented to conference venues such as the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE), Applied and Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA), American Collegiate Retailing Association (ACRA), International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA), the Community Development Society, and the Cambio de Colores Annual Conference of Latinos in the Midwest.  Published work will be disseminated through academic journals such as the Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Journal of Small Business Management, Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Natural Hazards, and the Journal of Extension and the Journal of Small Bus

Organization/Governance

Organization and Governance


Executive Committee: The technical committee retains all powers except those specifically delegated to a subcommittee. The officers of the technical committee shall constitute the executive committee. There shall be a chair, a secretary, and a member at-large, one of which is elected each year. The executive committee shall respond in writing to any inquiry from a member of the technical committee.


Duties/Term of Office: A full list of duties of the chair are found in the CSREES Manual. The chair sends a copy of the annual report to the technical committee members, and informs the administrative advisors secretary of changes to the NC 1030 list serve. The chair, elected in the odd-numbered years, serves for two years beginning at the end of the annual meeting in which elected. The secretary, elected in the even-numbered years, serves for two years beginning at the end of the annual meeting in which elected. The member-at-large serves for one year beginning at the end of the annual meeting in which elected. The at-large member works with the executive committee on matters brought to the attention of the chair, which require a vote. In the event that co-chairs are elected, there will be no election of a member-at-large.


Other Appointees and Subcommittees: There shall be a member appointed by the chair who will update the mailing list. There shall be a member appointed by the chair who will serve as editor of a public web site created for the NC 1030 project. There shall be a member appointed by the chair who will serve as manager of the interview schedules. A policy subcommittee will consist of a chair and at least two additional members who shall be appointed by the chair. The subcommittee will serve for the duration of the NC 1030 project. A chair, selected by the subcommittee, will remind the members of the technical committee, of the policies on a regular basis.


 

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Attachments

Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

HI, IA, IN, MN, MO, MT, ND, UT, WI

Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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