Interview with Renata BERNARDON, Visiting researcher at the EDHEC Family Business Centre
As a visiting researcher at the EDHEC Family Business Centre for four months, what were your main expectations and achievements?
"I am enrolled in a PhD program at Unisinos in Brazil and writing my dissertation about the family business. The main expectations I had as a visiting researcher at the EDHEC Family Business Centre was the possibility to have a very specialized advisor in the field! I can say that over four months, I did very important progress in my thesis research. I received valuable comments about my research question, refined my research goals, had very good recommendations about precise bibliography on my research themes and very good advice in the methodology phase. With all these insights, I was well-prepared to go to the field and start my research interviews. So, I came back to Brazil with significant advancements on these different levels in addition to initial data collection. During this period, I also had the opportunity to participate in the quarterly research meetings and in the EDHEC Family Business Conference organized by the EDHEC Family Business Center, which made my visiting period a really a good experience."
I am interested in themes that are really relevant to the family business field, themes that focus on the influence of the family in the business and vice versa. In my thesis, I am researching about longevity.
In your research on family business, what are the key themes you are interested in? Why choosing these topics?
"I am interested in themes that are really relevant to the family business field, themes that focus on the influence of the family in the business and vice versa. In my thesis, I am researching about longevity. I choose this topic because I believe that it is relevant to understand how the long-lived companies survive over the generations and generations, which characteristics they have, which governance process and structure there are, and what kind of behaviors the owners have along the life-cycle."
What are the big challenges in your research area?
"Like all the research areas, the family business field has challenges. For example, accessing the companies and developing a relevant research not only on the academic level but also on the practical level. This being said, talking about the family business field, I believe that the big challenge is to consolidate and acknowlege the family business as a research field instead of considering it just like a research object, especially in Brazil, which is my country of origin."
What is innovative about your research?
"I could say that the “Longevity” theme by itself is innovative, because it moves the research ahead! It is not another piece researching about the entrepreneurial founders, family business succession, or the differences between family and non-family companies, which have been often studied. In addition, I believe that the methodology could also be innovative in the field; I am using different perspectives to answer the research question, like the historical perspective, in addition to the perspectives of multiple family stakeholders, such as the owners, the managers, and the family members including the next generation."
As a family business member, I would say to the other family business members: be persistent every day, move on from generation to generation, and never give up.
You wear different hats as you have a background as a family business member, consultant, researcher and educator. Can you share with us a few lessons learned that would help family business members to better address family-related issues?
"As a family business member, I would say to the other family business members: be persistent every day, move on from generation to generation, and never give up."
"As a consultant, I would encourage family business members to ask someone from the outside for help when it comes to family dynamics management. Although it is not an easy endeavor, being supported by someone neutral might be of great value in the process."
" As a researcher and educator, I would emphasize the fact that family business management is a scientific discipline, so we should do research that contributes to develop the knowledge of all the players related to the family business."
EDHEC Family Business Center wishes Renata Bernardon the best of luck in furthering the development of her research projects.