Family Business Contributions to Sustainable and Entrepreneurial Rural Communities over Time

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PI: Niehm, L. (Iowa State University)
Co-PIs: Muske, G. and Fitzgerald, M. (North Dakota State University)

Award: $25,000

Final Report

Project Abstract:  The specific purpose of this project is to enhance understanding of the entrepreneurial efforts of rural family businesses and the factors that contribute to the sustainability of their businesses and communities over time. Adding a fourth wave of data collection to the National Family Business Panel (NFBP) will allow us to assess change over a nearly 20 year period to better understand how family businesses survive, thrive, or fail during recessionary periods. The requested funding would allow us to garner a unique understanding of family businesses by also adding a qualitative dimension to our previously collected quantitative waves of data (1997, 2000 & 2007). We will glean an in-depth understanding of entrepreneurial strategies used by family businesses and how they foster sustainability in rural communities, particularly during recessionary periods. This will be achieved through a mixed-method design and will position us to pursue a larger federal grant to continue our work and inform Extension efforts in both Iowa and North Dakota. These findings will also benefit other states in the north central region, particularly those participating in the NC 1030 Family Business Research Group (FBRG), for which we are members. The proposed project will position the research team ofNiehm, Muske and Fitzgerald, as well as the NC 1030 FBRG, to forge new relationships and partnerships and extend our work, for example, with the Nebraska Rural Futures Institute. Such partnerships could extend the application and impact of our research findings and create synergies for new grant proposals and research collaborations.

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