Sub-theme 43: Micro-foundations of Ethnic, Migrant, and Family Business Organizations: Opening up the Black Box of In- and Exclusion ---> MERGED with sub-theme 23


Call for Papers

There is a burgeoning literature on ethnic, migrant, and family firms showing that these represent unique forms of organization revealing their own dynamics at the interface of business and socio-cultural life. Research to date generally adopts the family business or ethnic or migrant group as the unit of analysis to investigate differences between family and non-family firms or between ethnic and migrant groups in national settings. In focusing on such macro-level outcomes, however, less attention has been paid to the micro-level dynamics within these firms that produce these outcomes (Danes et al., 2008). Even more so, critical scholars have referred to these internal dynamics as a “black box” (De Massis & Foss, 2018). Storti (2014) for instance notes that the formation of migrant enterprises and the situated micro-scale mechanisms remain a black box while in family business research, Jaskiewicz and Dyer (2017) have described the ways in which “differences among families shape family business goals, behaviors, and outcomes” as the “elephant in the room” (p. 111).
This sub-theme aims to bring together family firm and migrant and ethnic minority business researchers, seeking contributions that help open the black box of the internal dynamics of these organizations. We still know relatively little about the gender, age, generational, religious, ethnic, and class dynamics in these organizations and to what extent these create and/or are created by processes of inclusion and exclusion and with what effects. What, for instance, are the implications of focusing research on the ethnic group or family firm as it might gloss over the diversity within? What are the underlying micro-mechanisms? Who is in- or excluded in ownership and management, and with what kind of implications for careers and identities? And how about more complex and multi-layered processes, such as “inclusion within exclusion” (the inclusion of otherwise excluded groups, including younger people, women and minority members)?
In line with a broader movement within management and organization studies to focus on micro-foundations, we call for research to unlock the black box of inclusion and exclusion in ethnic, migrant and family enterprises. While the scholarly fields of family, migrant and ethnic business studies broadly neglect internal firm dynamics, analytic approaches have emerged that try to tackle this black box problem, including intersectionality (Barrett & Vershinina, 2017), kinship (Verver & Koning, 2018), familiness (Pearson et al., 2008), family/non-family dynamics (Tabor et al., 2018), and socioemotional wealth (Gómez-Mejía et al., 2007). How can these, and other approaches for instance from organization studies such as identity work (Brown, 2015), routines (Feldman et al., 2019; Reay, 2019) and sensemaking (Sandberg & Tsoukas, 2015), help unpack such internal dynamics and shed light on who is included or excluded, why, and with what consequences.
Altogether, with scant or ambivalent research on underlying mechanisms, we agree with scholars calling for deeper insights into processes of inclusion and exclusion in ethnic, migrant and/or family enterprises across time and space (Ryan, 2011). We welcome both empirical and theorical contributions on the micro-level processes of inclusion and exclusion. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Which actors play a role in processes of inclusion and exclusion in family, ethnic and migrant firms? Who contributes to and who is subjected to these processes, and why?

  • What are the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in these organizations? What is the role and meaning of intersectionality (gender, religion), generational change, kinship relations, and/or family or ethnic value systems?

  • What are the implications of these internal dynamics for levels of in- and exclusion and for firm outcomes, compared to other firms? For career progression and equal pay? How are processes of inclusion and exclusion related to precarity and exploitation?

  • What might be appropriate theoretical lenses and constructs to study them? What might be the value of boundary crossing, boundary work, social capital (bonding and bridging), socioemotional wealth, familiness, routines, identity work, sensemaking? How can theorical lenses used in the fields of family business, ethnic and migrant enterprises and organization studies be integrated or applied across different categories of firms?

  • How do contextual factors affect these internal dynamics and their implications? What is the role of culture(s), institutions, time, cross-border networks, and the changing definition or importance of migration and ethnicity? How do these internal dynamics surface in different parts of the world?



  • Barrett, R., & Vershinina, N. (2017): “Intersectionality of ethnic and entrepreneurial identities: A study of post-war Polish entrepreneurs in an English city.” Journal of Small Business Management, 55 (3), 430–443.
  • Brown, A.D. (2015): “Identities and identity work in organizations.” International Journal of Management Reviews, 17 (1), 20–40.
  • Danes, S.M., Lee, J., Stafford, K., & Heck, R.K.Z. (2008): “The effects of ethnicity, families and culture on entrepreneurial experience: An extension of sustainable family business theory.” Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 13 (3), 229–268.
  • De Massis, A., & Foss, N.J. (2018): “Advancing family business research: The promise of microfoundations.” Family Business Review, 31 (4), 386–396.
  • Feldman, M.S., D’Aderio, L., Dittrich, K., & Jarzabkowski, P. (eds.) (2019): Routine Dynamics in Action: Replication and Transformation. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, vol. 61. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
  • Gómez-Mejía, L.R., Haynes, K.T., Núñez-Nickel, M., Jacobson, K.J.L., & Moyano-Fuentes, J. (2007): “Socioemotional wealth and business risks in family-controlled firms: Evidence from Spanish olive oil mills.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 52 (1), 106–137.
  • Jaskiewicz, P., & Dyer, W.G. (2017): “Addressing the elephant in the room: Disentangling family heterogeneity to advance family business research.” Family Business Review, 30 (2), 111–118.
  • Pearson, A.W., Carr, J.C., & Shaw, J.C. (2008): “Toward a theory of familiness: A social capital perspective.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 32 (6), 949–969.
  • Reay, T. (2019): “Family routines and next-generation engagement in family firms.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 43 (2), 244–250.
  • Ryan, L. (2011): “Migrants’ social networks and weak ties: Accessing resources and constructing relationships post-migration.” The Sociological Review, 59 (4), 707–724.
  • Sandberg, J., & Tsoukas, H. (2015): “Making sense of the sensemaking perspective: Its constituents, limitations, and opportunities for further development.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36 (S1), S6–S32.
  • Storti, L. (2014): “Being an entrepreneur: Emergence and structuring of two immigrant entrepreneur groups.” Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 26 (7–8), 521–545.
  • Tabor, W., Chrisman, J.J., Madison, K., & Vardaman, J.M. (2018): “Nonfamily members in family firms: A review and future research agenda.” Family Business Review, 31(1), 54–79.
  • Verver, M.J., & Koning, J. (2018): “Towards a kinship perspective on entrepreneurship.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 42 (4), 631–666.