Call for Papers - Special Issue: Family firms and Regional Context

Guest Editors: Stefano Amato, Evans Korang Adjei, Rodrigo Basco, Lech Suwala

Family firms represent one of the most predominant forms of business organization across regions in developed and emerging economies (Basco et al. 2021). Family firms are the backbone of some of the most dynamic regions in the world -like the Baden-Württemberg dominated mainly by the family-owned Mittelstand (Berghoff 2006) or the Third Italy with the small and medium-sized family firms scattered in the Marshallian industrial districts (Becattini et al. 2009)- and important economic players in natural resource-based clusters in developing and emerging regions – such as the Antofagasta region in Chile (Basco and Calabrò 2016). 

However, current evidence is torn between the association of family firms with regional long-term economic and prosperity from one side, and the adverse effects like regional decline, regional sclerosis, and/or regional lock-ins on the other side (Basco and Suwala 2021; Pittino et al. 2021). Hence, despite the nascent efforts to elucidate this contradiction and connect family firms and regional context (Adjei et al. 2018; Albers and Suwala 2021; Amato et al. 2021a; Ricotta and Basco 2021) are gaining momentum, family firms have received limited attention in mainstream regional science.

Following the debate opened by Stough et al. (2015) and continued by Basco et al. (2021) to advance the cross-fertilization between family business and regional studies, this call aims to move forward this debate by shading new light in a twofold and not mutually exclusive way. First, by unveiling under what conditions family and non-family firms are differently affected by the regional context where they are located (Capello 2011; Suwala 2021). The pervasive economic, social, and emotional connections with their home place (i.e., territorial embeddedness) may enable family firms to exploit some locational advantages (Cucculelli and Storai 2015; Amato et al. 2021b) or to offset the downsides resulting from regional remoteness (Baù et al. 2019). Second, by exploring the family firms’ influence on the regional context (Berlemann and Jahn 2016), that is whether and to what extent the prevalence of family firms in spatially-bounded areas—such as regions and territories—fosters (Block and Spiegel 2013; Amato et al. 2021c) or hinders (Cappelli et al. 2021) local and regional development.

Review of Regional Research invites scholars to submit papers for this special issue on “Family Firms and Regional Context” to advance our understanding of the interplay between family firms and regional settings. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The influence of locality on family firm’s decision-making and growth pathways
  • Family firms and agglomeration economies
  • Family firms and proximity dimensions
  • Family firms and regional structural change
  • Family firms in Marshallian Industrial Districts (MIDs) and business clusters
  • Family firms in rural and peripheral areas
  • Family firms and the spatial evolution of economic activities
  • Family firms and territorial innovation models
  • Family firms and knowledge spillovers theory of entrepreneurship
  • Family firms and location choices
  • Family firms and regional institutions
  • Family firms’ contribution to regional resilience
  • Family firms in regional path creation, path branching/lock-in
  • Family Firms and place-based or mission-oriented policies
  • Family Firms and university-industry cooperation
  • Family Firms and regionalized ‘Big Data’
  • Family firms and regional corporate responsibility
  • The role of family firms in digitalization, smart regions, Industry 4.0 technologies, and platform-based economies
  • The regional role of family firms during exogenous shocks (e.g., financial crisis, pandemics etc.)

Instructions and Dates

Manuscripts should follow the submission guidelines of the journal, which can be found here: Submissions should be made through

All submissions will go through a blind peer-review process. The deadline to submit the full paper is December 31, 2022. We expect the special issue to be published by or before spring 2024.


Adjei EK, Eriksson RH, Lindgren U, Holm E (2018) Familial relationships and firm performance: the impact of entrepreneurial family relationships. Entrep Reg Dev 31:357–377

Albers H-H, Suwala L (2021) Family Firms and Corporate Spatial Responsibilities in Germany – Implication on Urban and Regional Planning and Management. In: Basco R, Stough R, Suwala L (eds) Family Business and Regional Development. Routledge, London

Amato S, Basco R, Backman M, Lattanzi N (2021a) Family-managed firms and local export spillovers: evidence from Spanish manufacturing firms. Eur Plan Stud 29:468–492

Amato S, Patuelli A, Basco R, Lattanzi N (2021b) Family Firms Amidst the Global Financial Crisis: A Territorial Embeddedness Perspective on Downsizing. J Bus Ethics Online first

Amato S, Ricotta F, Basco R (2021c) Family-managed firms, External Sources of Knowledge and Innovation. Ind Innov Forthcoming

Basco R, Calabrò A (2016) Open innovation search strategies in family and non-family SMEs: Evidence from a natural resource-based cluster in Chile. Acad Rev Latinoam Adm 29:279–302

Basco R, Stough R, Suwala L (2021) Family Business and Regional Development. Routledge, London

Basco R, Suwala L (2021) Spatial familiness and family spatialities—searching for fertile ground between family business and regional studies. In: Basco R, Stough R, Suwala L (eds) Family Business and Regional Development. Routledge, London, pp 7–32

Baù M, Chirico F, Pittino D, et al (2019) Roots to Grow : Family Firms and Local Embeddedness in Rural and Urban Contexts. Entrep Theory Pract 43:360–385

Becattini G, Bellandi M, De Propris L (2009) A Handbook of Industrial Districts. Elgar Edward

Berghoff H (2006) The end of family business? The Mittelstand and German capitalism in transition, 1949-2000. Bus Hist Rev 80:263–295

Berlemann M, Jahn V (2016) Regional Importance of Mittelstand Firms and Innovation Performance. Reg Stud 50:1819–1833

Block JH, Spiegel F (2013) Family firm density and regional innovation output: An exploratory analysis. J Fam Bus Strateg 4:270–280

Capello R (2011) Location, regional growth, and local development theories. AESTIMUN 58:1–25

Cappelli R, Cucculelli M, Peruzzi V (2021) Family firms and regional entrepreneurship: The European evidence. Fam Bus Reg Dev 193–209

Cucculelli M, Storai D (2015) Family firms and industrial districts. Evidence from the Italian manufacturing industry. J Fam Bus Strateg 6:234–246

Pittino D, Visintin F, Minichilli A, Compagno C (2021) Family involvement in governance and firm performance in industrial districts. The moderating role of the industry’s technological paradigm. Entrep Reg Dev Online First

Ricotta F, Basco R (2021) Family firms in European regions: the role of regional institutions. Entrep Reg Dev Online first

Stough R, Welter F, Block J, et al (2015) Family business and regional science: “Bridging the gap.” J Fam Bus Strateg 6:208–218

Suwala L (2021) Concepts of Space, Refiguration of Spaces, and Comparative Research: Perspectives from Economic Geography and Regional Economics. In: Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research


Stefano Amato is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy. He obtained his PhD from the University of Pisa, Italy, and has been a Visiting Ph.D. Candidate at Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al-Qassimi Chair in Family Business of American University of Sharjah, UAE, and at the Centre for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO) of Jönköping International Business School, Sweden. His main research interest focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), family businesses and regional development.

Evans Korang Adjei obtained his MSc and PhD in Human Geography from Umeå University in 2012 and 2018 respectively. His research interests include areas of geographies of family co-occurrences and firm performance, firm learning, immigration and labour market outcomes, familial entrepreneurship, and regional development.

Lech Suwala is Full Professor of Urban and Regional Economics at Technical University Berlin, Germany. Prior to that, he held visiting professorships for Spatial and for Innovation Management at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, and Jagellonian University, Cracow, Poland; after serving as a Research Associate at the Institute of Economic Geography at Humboldt-University Berlin, among other positions. Lech Suwala’s expertise includes spatial creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship research, European and regional planning, and management geography, geography of the firm, family firms as well as development path trajectories of firms and regions.

Rodrigo Basco is a Professor at American University of Sharjah (AUS)–United Arab Emirates and holds the Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al-Qassimi Chair in Family Business. He is the Board Chairman of STEP Project Global Consortium and Associate Editor of Journal of Family Business Strategy. He is also visiting professor at IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (Italy). His research focuses on entrepreneurship, management, and regional development with special interest in family firms, and he has taught economics, management, and family business courses at universities in Spain, Chile, and Germany.

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