The management priorities in four early-stage canadian family-owned breweries

  • Matti Muhos
  • Dr. Anna-Mari Simunaniemi University of Oulu, Kerttu Saalasti Institute
  • Riitta Forsten-Astikainen
Keywords: management priorities, family business, growth management, micro-sized enterprise, small enterprise, brewery


Early growth is the most critical period for the survival of a new business. The aim of this study is to clarify the management priorities of four micro- and small-sized Family-owned Breweries in Sparsely Populated Areas of the Nova Scotia, Canada. Growth of firms is a central topic in entrepreneurship research (McKelvie and Wiklund, 2010; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000), and it is studied from multiple perspectives. Many of these perspectives are focused on the factors leading to growth, while this study focus on the growth management process (McKelvie and Wiklund, 2010).  The study focusses on the growth management priorities experienced during the early stages of business development.

This is an explorative case study focused on four Family-owned Breweries located in Nova Scotia, Canada. The management priorities can be studied by analysing what managers pay attention to and how they weight that information in solving problems (Smith et al., 1985) related to company management. The data consist of four cases of the early-stage breweries representing diverse stages of the company development. The first one represents growth-oriented startup. The second one represents brewery at the take-off stage. The third one represents mature brewery having already passed the take-off. The fourth one represents is an impulsive and experimental life-style business with no high growth ambitions. The data was collected in 2019. The data was analysed using Critical Incident Technique. The research question of this study is: What

The unit of analysis in this study is an early-stage family business located in a Sparsely Populated Area located in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia GBD is lower than the national average in Canada. The companies face challenges related to long distances and sparse population and ageing. There is not a single generally adopted definition for family business, but according to Villalonga and Amit (2004), most of them share three common dimensions: a significant part of the capital is held by one or several families; family members retain significant control over the company through the distribution of capital among non-family shareholders and voting rights, with possible statutory or legal restrictions; and family members hold top management positions. Family business practitioners face considerable challenges trying to compete with the professionally run and better financially endowed multinational enterprises – Family businesses must be examined within the cultural contexts in which they are bred, nourished, and grow (Gutpa et al., 2009).

This analysis opens on the management priorities experienced by the owner-managers of the selected Nova Scotian Family Breweries. The contextual management priorities were visited from the perspectives of the Family-owned breweries in Nova Scotian SPAs. The study clarifies the context specific characteristics of the management in an early-stage business. It is widely acknowledged the growth of firms is at least somewhat dependent on their location (Hoogstra and van Dijk, 2004; Mason and Harrison, 1985; Storey, 1994). Particularly, location plays a critical role in accessing important resources and capabilities (Freeman et al., 2012). Therefore, instead of relying on universal frameworks and moders, it is important to clarify the phenomenon, in this case the management priorities, within the context.

2.3 Managing microenterprises in change