Christine Woods

Associate Professor Christine Woods works in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Faculty of Business and Economics at The University of Auckland, teaching entrepreneurship at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Her research interests are in family business, small to medium business sector (SMEs) growth, social entrepreneurship, and Maori entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial behaviour. Associate Professor Woods is part of the direction team for the ICEHOUSE Business Growth Programmes and is actively involved in the Velocity.



The purpose of this paper is to explore the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing an appreciative inquiry approach for entrepreneurship research within the family business context. We argue that there is an opportunity to shift the focus of family business studies from a“deficit oriented approach” toward adopting a positive organizational lens through“appreciative inquiry” principles. We review the background to appreciative inquiry including from its inception in the 1980s; the definitions, principles, models for appreciative inquiry; and the theoretical foundations of the appreciative inquiry approach. We will draw on examples from a recent study that applied appreciative inquiry principles to investigate what worked well in entrepreneurial family businesses. By exploring the generative characteristics, we are better placed to understand the strengths of a family firm. This leads to research that presents what works well, and can be built on in family businesses, rather than objectifying the problems to be solved. Our contribution lies in how, as a positive organizational lens, appreciative inquiry principles inform research in the entrepreneurial family business context. In practice, finding the advantages and disadvantages of using an appreciative protocol could lead to future studies adopting this lens, and possibly past studies being reinvigorated with a shift of focus.

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