Seminar #12 – January 27, 2021


Management Practices in Owner-Managed Companies

The presenter is Tobias Palm, Doctoral Candidate at the CFB-HSG Center for Family Business, 
University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland. The paper is entitled “Making a Difference. Management Practices in Owner-Managed Companies”. 

date: January 27, 2021

time: 12:00-13:00 (CET)

location: Zoom (private event)

ABSTRACT – This paper provides an in-depth understanding of where, how, and to what ends management practices are employed in owner-managed companies. After systematically reviewing 116 articles from 30 years (1990-2020), we found most studies are empirical (both quantitative and qualitative), few theoretical studies, and little innovative method, like simulations. Overall, management practice research lacks an overarching foundation: common theoretical frameworks include resource-based/dynamic capabilities, (neo-)institutional theory, and organizational learning. The review reveals three key themes: (1) Most research deals with management practices in specific company functions, like finance, human resources, and marketing; only some research investigates topics like sustainability, ethics, and practice formation / diffusion. (2) Research insights from the study of large organizations increasingly find their way into the field of owner-managed companies, like psychological contract breach and organizational learning. (3) Despite the widely acknowledged importance of the top management team, like owners or managers, in a given firm, much of the research still focuses on firm-wide practices. Building on existing perspectives on practices, this paper offers a fresh view on practices: the «teleological perspective» – practices should be analyzed from the viewpoint of “what are they implemented for”, by asking which telos / purpose do they serve.


Tobias Palm

Doctoral Candidate 

Centre for Family Business

University of St.Gallen