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Diagnosing Innovation Readiness in Family Firms Essay

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Updated: Dec 10th, 2020

Summary of the Article

Authored by Holt and Daspit, the article “Diagnosing Innovation Readiness in Family Firms” is an informative piece that addresses the issue of innovation in family businesses. The two authors acknowledge the huge role played by innovation in ensuring that such family-related ventures remain operational and competitive in their respective markets. However, implementing some innovations may suffer a major drawback, especially if some of the parties involved are not well prepared to execute such endeavors to the latter. Consequently, although the problem is not explicitly stated, the article attempts to examine the issue of members’ readiness before implementing their plans as a major factor to consider when evaluating the success of innovation in family businesses.

To test the extent of awareness, these authors deploy the Readiness for Innovation in Family Firms (RIFF) model as a tool for capturing data through interviews directed to proprietors or leaders of family businesses. This method can help business administrators in evaluating situations before implementing their key ideas because the framework introduces various aspects that are linked to innovation preparedness. Although the article does not directly state its findings, the application of the above method seems to be fruitful when adopted by family business managers. Such people are well positioned to consider different family, personal, and business-related elements that, in turn, indicate the extent to which the venture can successfully go through the innovation implementation phase. Nonetheless, the study’s thesis is apparent. According to the article, family businesses that adopt the RIFF model have higher chances of emphasizing particular elements that have a bearing on their ventures, thus enhancing chances of success.

A Critical Evaluation of the Article

Holt and Daspit’s problem is not overtly stated. However, a keen examination of the article’s introductory paragraphs seems to suggest the issue that these authors wanted to investigate. In particular, the concept of innovation is presented as a crucial element in today’s ventures, especially those that wish to remain functional in the ever-changing business environment. It enhances not only organizations’ levels of effectiveness but also their competitiveness. This study reveals two stages, namely, innovation development and idea execution. According to Holt and Daspit, family ventures are characterized by their high levels of elasticity. As a result, they are enthusiastically involved in modernization efforts following their unwavering dedication to attaining long-term business values.

In addition, family firms’ appreciation of the role of innovation in bringing about sustainable business worth influences relatives to adopt innovative strategies. Holt and Daspit go a step further to give illustrations of family ventures such as Bechtel and Mars, Inc. whose active involvement in innovation was recognized in countries such as Australia and the U.S. respectively. However, to demonstrate the study’s problem, these authors introduce a worrying issue whereby “The successful navigation of the innovation process is not easily achieved among family firms” (p. 82). Despite mentioning the existence of challenges, which these authors do not specify, the article does not clarify why innovation processes do not succeed among family businesses. Any reader coming across such a statement would expect an explanation to follow substantiating claims made.

Holt and Daspit include two questions that are deemed appropriate for their study because they capture issues related to the problem stated in the article’s introductory paragraphs. Any well-founded research poses questions and probably hypotheses that it wishes to respond to, confirm, or reject. Including these elements ensures that readers have a hint on what the study intends to find out, as opposed to getting this information in later sections. However, although these authors provide questions that are equally significant, they term one of them as key in relation to the subject under investigation. In particular, the query “Is the family firm able and willing to innovate?” (p. 83) is given more attention because it captures not only the issue of family business’ innovation readiness but also the underlying capacity to implement all steps required successfully.

This article fits into other studies on this topic, especially those that emphasize the need for appraising people’s preparedness and capability to effectively lead a particular business agenda. Regarding family firms’ capacity to engage in successful innovation endeavors, Holt and Daspit deliberately pose the second question, “What should family leaders consider as they assess readiness for innovation?” Although this article does not miss crucial studies it might have considered, it would have been vital to add the word “firm” between the terms “family leaders” in its second question. Abandoning this word during their literature search may bring forth unnecessary articles whose contribution to the current work may be negligible. In particular, omitting this word implies that Holt and Daspit give any head of a particular family an automatic mandate of steering related businesses, regardless of their age or knowledge concerning such ventures. Nevertheless, the above questions fit the context of the subject under investigation.

The problem stated in the article matches the method deployed. A study may be deemed unreliable, especially when issues indicated under its problem statement section are not consistent with elements specified in the methodology segment. However, in the current study, the problem revolves around changing the observed situation whereby family businesses do not execute various innovations effectively because of the lack of awareness of pertinent firm, personal, and family-specific aspects that influence their level of success. Holt and Daspit’s study seeks to ensure that family firms are well prepared to not only develop but also adopt innovations while taking into account the above factors, particularly those that have a bearing on individual ventures.

From this problem, a keen reader would wish to be introduced to a framework that captures the issue of innovation adoption preparedness in addition to stipulating the appropriate diagnostic procedures. Holt and Daspit’s RIFF model captures these details, implying that it is well suited for managing the problem encountered by family businesses. This method is sufficient to provide the data required. In particular, it is tailor-made to acquire such information from specific family members, particularly leaders, as opposed to any individual in a business steered by relatives. For instance, the tool is designed to reveal firm, personal, and family-specific factors that hinder successful innovation development and execution. In their interviews, Holt and Daspit divide these elements into two, namely, structural and psychological aspects. Hence, the selected method is sufficient in contributing to the overall goal of helping family business leaders to emphasize particular aspects in their endeavor to implement innovations in their respective ventures.

Holt and Daspit’s article has a weakness of failing to include crucial headings such as literature review, discussion, findings, and recommendation sections. As a result, the study does not report its results in a clear and consistent format. Many standard scholarly works usually allocate a distinct chapter analyzing results. However, the current study does not follow this format, hence making it troublesome for readers to know where results of the RIFF model are addressed. In particular, one does not expect recommendations to be made before analyzing a particular study’s findings. Holt and Daspit seem to mix these aspects to the extent that readers may not even recognize what the study found after interviewing various people. For instance, the section on “Readiness for Innovation in Family Firms (RIFF)” (p. 84) gives several recommendations that are not based on any findings.

Nonetheless, results regarding the data captured using the RIFF are presented from the 87th page. Here, results after involving more than 1000 participants indicate that family members demonstrate their enthusiasm and capability of supporting innovation plans after being convinced that all involved parties will be dedicated to ensuring the success of the particular venture. However, specific findings from the RIFF are not explicitly discussed in the article. In particular, only two instances reveal what was found from interviews done on the mentioned 1000 managers. In addition, the article overlooks some crucial elements. For instance, one anticipates some quantitative data, figures, and tables accompanying such findings to ease results interpretation. However, none of these expectations is met in the current study’s findings. The reader has to struggle searching statements that suggest the two authors’ attempt to analyze their results. A standard study also captures possible limitations as a way of paving the way for further explorations regarding a particular subject. Despite various weaknesses revealed above, Holt and Daspit do not prepare readers for such issues by acknowledging the existence of limitations.

Although the study’s logic is clear, its claims are not supported by convincing data. Regarding logic, the article qualifies in passing the message regarding its goal of helping family businesses to not only develop but also adopt their innovations. Holt and Daspit do not leave readers questioning the role of innovation in the current context. Instead, they present it in a well-reasoned manner as the process of generating and implementing original and upgraded items, “services, processes, policies, structures, or administrative systems to meet the needs of a dynamic environment, to be effective, and to sustain a competitive advantage” (p. 82). Further, the way the article presents the concept of the RIFF model is satisfactory. This study offers detailed information regarding various aspects linked to the firm, family, and individual parties that the model captures.

When examining the issue of innovation preparedness in relation to the RIFF, Holt and Daspit provide rational perspectives that confirm to readers that indeed modernization efforts may never be fruitful if some or all involved family members are not ready to demonstrate high levels of dedication to the task before them. However, the study has a weakness of making claims that are not supported by convincing data. In other scenarios, other statements bearing crucial information are left unreferenced. In particular, a declaration such as “Family influence leads to the pursuit of non-economic goals” (p. 83) should be accompanied by a reference substantiating this claim based on findings from previous studies. However, Holt and Daspit do not provide any evidence of similar allegations. They may not be aware of the implication of using other scholars’ works without acknowledging their authorship. Making such unsupported arguments compromises not only the quality but also the reliability of the content provided. Nonetheless, no fallacies are spotted in the current study.

My Opinion on the Article

In my opinion, I agree with this study’s findings that applying the RIFF model can help business proprietors to abandon factors that hinder the smooth execution and adoption of innovation. Instead, the suggested framework reveals details of structural and psychological aspects that may be considered when assessing family members’ readiness to engage in the innovation implementation process. I also agree with the suggestions made regarding family leaders’ need for evaluating their capacity and enthusiasm before investing resources in a modernization plan. In my view, this proposal is helpful because it eliminates uncooperative and incapable members from being involved in the process.

The article by Holt and Daspit investigates a crucial issue that can help families in boosting their firms’ levels of success. The lack of preparedness has led to the downfall of many businesses. Based on the information presented in the current article, family firm managers and owners of other ventures can benefit by first appraising the extent to which parties to a particular venture are equipped and eager to take their respective companies to greater profitability levels. Overall, although the content presented is logical, not every statement made or information given is clear, well ordered, or properly supported with appropriate references. However, I am not skeptical concerning findings, methods, and suggestions provided in this study.

The Article’s Contribution to Knowledge and its Application

The information provided in the study by Holt and Daspit contributes to the prevailing knowledge regarding the need for being ready and willing to steer a business toward success. Although many factors such as the availability of financial resources or the appropriate pool of workers determine the level of business success, Holt and Daspit’s addition of elements such as proprietors’ willingness and readiness paves the way for today’s studies to examine the subject further. In addition, the utilization of the RIFF model to evaluate family businesses’ extent of enthusiasm and preparedness strengthens the existing literature on frameworks that scholars can deploy when testing similar issues.

Regarding the article’s application to the present-day world, the concept of readiness cuts across all areas of life, including social, economic, political, and even environmental matters. Hence, before engaging in any agenda that is aimed at enhancing the current situation in a particular aspect, Holt and Daspit remind all stakeholders to assess their level of willingness and preparedness as a way of ensuring that any impediment is eliminated before commencing the process. For instance, in the current political world, citizens may pressure a candidate to vie for a particular position. Such an individual may apply a modified version of Holt and Daspit’s RIFF framework in assessing the extent to which they are willing and capable of assuming the suggested office.

Improving this Research

Based on the weaknesses identified above, it is possible to improve this study. Firstly, the issue of formatting and flow of ideas may be enhanced by including standard sections that characterize scholarly works such as having distinct introduction, problem statement, methodology, literature review, findings, discussion, recommendations, and conclusions sections. Arranging the article’s content this way would ensure that crucial data, for instance, the use of tables, graphs, and figures among other quantitative facts are not left out. It would also give Holt and Daspit the opportunity to offer detailed suggestions in a separate section, instead of scattering them in almost all areas of their study. In addition, the reliability of this study may be improved by ensuring that any borrowed information is referenced as a way of giving credit to respective authors.

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"Diagnosing Innovation Readiness in Family Firms." IvyPanda, 10 Dec. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/diagnosing-innovation-readiness-in-family-firms/.

1. IvyPanda. "Diagnosing Innovation Readiness in Family Firms." December 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/diagnosing-innovation-readiness-in-family-firms/.


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IvyPanda. "Diagnosing Innovation Readiness in Family Firms." December 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/diagnosing-innovation-readiness-in-family-firms/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Diagnosing Innovation Readiness in Family Firms." December 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/diagnosing-innovation-readiness-in-family-firms/.

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