Theses and Dissertations


Zonghui Li

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Daspit, Joshua J.

Committee Member

Long, Rebecca G.

Committee Member

Pearson, Allison W.

Committee Member

Marett, Kent

Committee Member

Madison, Kristen

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Business


Department of Management and Information Systems


Family firms are ubiquitous around the world. Family involvement in family businesses gives rise to unique features that not only make family firms behave distinctively from their nonamily counterparts but also lead to great variations among such firms. From an innovation perspective, while family firms are regarded as conservative businesses that lack an innovation spirit in some studies, others recognize family firms as key economic drivers demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit. This dissertation is an attempt to advance the understanding of family firm innovation heterogeneity by focusing on the role of family CEOs. In particular, this research explores what idiosyncratic resources and capabilities are generated from family management, specifically when a family member holds the CEO position. Employing a capability-based perspective of firm innovation, this research posits that the impact of a family CEO on firm innovation is twoold. Family CEOs have a direct impact on firm innovation due to the distinctive resources possessed and the unique goals pursued. Family CEOs also have an indirect impact on firm innovation via the configuration and orchestration of other top management team (TMT) members’ competencies, which manifests as high-order, idiosyncratic managerial capabilities. Therefore, superior or inferior family firm innovation is the result of both TMT members’ unique competencies acquired and developed by family firms as well as family CEOs’ idiosyncratic managerial capabilities. A randomly selected sample of 250 high-technology firms was used for the empirical tests. Findings suggest that family CEOs have a direct impact on firm innovation input and output and that family CEOs configure and orchestrate TMT resources distinctively compared to their professional counterparts. The results reveal theoretical implications for both family business and firm innovation and offer practical implications for leaders of family firms.