The debate around the different management practices of family firms, compared with non-family ones, is largely supported by important theoretical reasons and a huge stream of literature. Recent debates focus on contrasting innovation management practices of family and non-family companies, where a few evidences are still available. Along this line, the present paper aims at examining and understanding the determinants which can explain whether there are divergences in the search breadth of family and non-family firms. Our explorative analysis, focused on Italian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) competing in mid–high tech industries, generally confirms some of the outcomes emerging in other preliminary studies in this field. In particular, we show that Italian family-owned SMEs have a narrower search breadth than their non-family counterparts. Furthermore, our preliminary findings point out the role of some other factors considered as relevant (e.g., generations, time and cost for R&D projects, etc.).
Keywords: family and non-family firms, open innovation, search breadth, Italy, SMEs, small- and medium-sized enterprises, R&D, mid–high tech industries.