Although there is an increased interest in studies on FFs and open innovation (OI) the existing knowledge is rather limited. This study explores the open innovation choices, their determinants and the relative innovation performance in FFs with respect to non-family firms. By means of an European survey involving Italian, Swedish, Finnish and UK family and non-family firms we aim at investigating whether FFs are adopting a peculiar behaviour in the open innovation era. In order to achieve this goal, we rely on concepts and constructs already defined by open innovation literature and we explore the behaviour of FFs and non-family firms. Analysis of differences show that family firms are in general less open than non-family firms, when we consider openness in terms of breadth, while they show a higher intensity of collaboration behaviour when we consider the measures of depth. FFs perceive as slightly higher the competitive pressure, but very similar is the perceived technological pressure. Also drivers of collaboration and innovation strategy are on average very similar. Significant differences between FFs and non-FFs are found as concerns the use of IP legal rights (lower for FFs). On average, FFs declare a slightly higher novelty performance. A first type of regressions shows the contribution of some environmental and internal firm-specific factors as explanatory variables of openness degree and thus allow to depict the specific profile of FFs. When we explore differences on the supposed mediating factors of the relationship between openness and innovation performance, the organizational-managerial mechanisms emerge as factors over which FFs exert particular care. A second type of regressions shows that, beside the external social capital, organizational-managerial mechanisms emerge for FFs as a relevant mediator in the relationships between OI depth and innovation performance.
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