Interview with Dr. Mattias Nordqvist


Dr. Horak: Why did you get interested in studying family owned businesses?

Dr. Nordqvist: I come from a family firm background myself, so it felt like the right thing to focus 
on when I did my PhD in the early 2000s. Beside,I think family businesses represent an interesting 
form of enterprise where the owners typically are active and visible and the firms are not just 
run by short term oriented managers.

Dr. Horak: Can you discuss the themes of your research (strategy, entrepreneurship, etc.) 

Dr. Nordqvist: My research focuses on entrepreneurial and strategic processes in family firms, 
but I am also interested in issues regarding ownership and governance. I have several ongoing 
research projects and I use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Dr. Horak: What have you learned about strategy in family owned businesses (FOBs)?  

Dr. Nordvist: I have learned that they are typically influenced by the owners of the company, 
that it, doing strategy is not just a task for the management. Moreover, I have learned that 
socio-emotional considerations often play a big role in strategic decisions.

Dr. Horak: Can you talk about the STEP program and what you think the findings from 
STEP research can tell FOB leaders today? 

Dr. Nordqvist: I think the STEP project has a lot to offer for practicing FOB leaders. One major 
insight is that succession should not just be about passing on the ownership and/or the 
management responsibilities. Succession should also be about sustaining and developing the 
entrepreneurial capabilities across generations.

Dr. Horak: Have you found any interesting findings in your research related to entrepreneurship 
and family owned businesses?

Dr. Nordqvist: Yes, the importance of passing on and developing knowledge and networks from 
one generation to another in order to sustain entrepreneurship across generation is an interesting 
finding. Linked to this is the perspective that succession can actually be a process where the 
entrepreneurial sprit can be improved through the new energy and insights that the next 
generation can bring.

Dr. Horak: You have conducted some research in your native Sweden and also in 
Latin America (other places?). Can you talk about what issues may be similar cross culturally 
for FOBs and what might be some differences?

Dr. Nordqvist: Similar is that all family businesses struggle with the succession challenge, and 
to generate enough capital to grow without losing control of the business. A difference is that 
family firms in Sweden and Europe in general hire more non-family managers to expand the business. 
In Latin America there is a tendency to prefer to keep it in the family, and this restricts growth 

Dr. Horak: What do you think are important areas for future research in the FOB field?

Dr. Nordqvist: My friend Thomas Zellweger from University of St Gallen suggested that we 
should do more research not just on how owner family create wealth, but also how they destroy 
wealth. I think this is an important topic for future research. Another one is how we can develop 
and spread more research insights generation together with practitioners. This in order to make 
sure our research has a relevance for those working in or with family businesses.

Dr. Horak: I would like to thank Dr. Nordqvist for taking the time to share his insights on current research 
related to family owned business.  I met Mattias at the Family Enterprise Case Competetion in Vermont 
two years ago.  This past year the team he coached from Jönköping University in Sweden finished first 
in the graduate division. Congratulations to him and his team.  

Page last modified April 17, 2014