Keys to business longevity : a study on knowledge transfer in family farm businesses
Sammanfattning: Why some companies fail before second generation while others survive through centuries is a fundamental puzzle for business research. Contradictory to most business sectors, the agricultural sector is characterized by being owned and driven by families over generations. For decades, research has posited knowledge as among the key factors for business longevity. Pursuing an aim to understand the phenomenon of organizational learning, this study takes its interest in the process of tacit knowledge creation and transfer. The empirical contribution is the stories and thoughts of farmers, regarding knowledge transfer over generations of the family farm business. Embracing the inherent complexity of real-world organizations, indepth interviews were conducted and analyzed with the aid from a conceptual framework constituted from two main literature areas within organization theory; family business and organizational learning. Family farm businesses, as a sub-category of family businesses, are selected as empirics of interest due to the intergenerational character and thus, the importance of a successful generational shift. Empirically, it is found that the coherent processes of organizational learning are both present and viable in the family farm business. The findings of this study support the notion of the individual level as the origin of tacit knowledge in an organization and indicate that business longevity is enabled to study through processes of organizational learning. This study contributes with descriptions of approaching the distressed balance between knowledge renewal and conservation of knowledge. The descriptions of tacit knowledge transfer and its prerequisites contributes to knowledge of family business longevity. The conceptual framework of this study can be generalized to other small family businesses, such as the family farm business, to further describe tacit knowledge and its connection to family business longevity.
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