Directing the future: artificial intelligence integration in family businesses

Deniz Tuncalp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study explores the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within family businesses. It seeks to understand how family-owned enterprises navigate the adoption of AI technologies amidst balancing traditional business values and the imperatives of digital transformation. The research addresses the gap in the existing literature by providing insights into the strategic, operational and cultural dynamics influencing AI adoption in family businesses, highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities they face in leveraging AI for competitive advantage while preserving their legacy. Design/methodology/approach: Employing a qualitative research design, this study utilizes semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in Turkish family businesses actively engaging in AI projects. Purposive sampling was adopted to ensure a diverse representation of industries and AI adoption stages. The interviews aimed to capture in-depth insights into the motivations, strategies and outcomes of AI integration within these enterprises. Thematic analysis was conducted on the interview transcripts to identify recurring themes and patterns, providing a nuanced understanding of the factors driving AI adoption decisions in the context of family business values and traditions. Findings: The findings reveal that family businesses in Turkey perceive AI as a strategic tool to enhance operational efficiency and customer engagement. However, integrating AI technologies is often met with challenges, including resource constraints, digital literacy gaps and concerns over maintaining family legacy. Notably, businesses that successfully navigate AI adoption tend to employ tailored strategies that align with their core values, involving key family members in the decision-making process and fostering a culture of innovation. The study also highlights the importance of ethical considerations and governance in ensuring AI initiatives resonate with the family business ethos. Research limitations/implications: The study’s reliance on qualitative interviews within a single country context limits the generalizability of the findings. Future research could expand the geographical scope and incorporate quantitative methods to validate the identified themes across broader populations. Additionally, exploring the impact of generational differences within family businesses on AI adoption could offer more profound insights. The study underscores the need for a more nuanced understanding of the interplay between technology and tradition in family businesses, suggesting avenues for further investigation into how these enterprises can leverage AI to foster innovation while preserving their legacy. Practical implications: This research offers practical guidance for family businesses contemplating AI integration. It emphasizes the importance of aligning AI strategies with family values and involving stakeholders across generations in the adoption process. The findings suggest that family businesses can benefit from investing in digital literacy and fostering a culture open to technological innovation. Additionally, the study highlights the need for robust governance structures to navigate ethical considerations in AI adoption. By adopting a strategic approach to AI integration, family businesses can enhance their competitiveness without compromising their core values, ensuring long-term sustainability and success in the digital era. Social implications: Integrating AI in family businesses has significant social implications, particularly regarding employment and preserving the family legacy. The study suggests that thoughtful AI adoption can contribute to job creation and skill development, counteracting concerns over job displacement. Moreover, by leveraging AI to align with their core values, family businesses can reinforce their role as stewards of social and economic stability within their communities. This research underscores the potential of AI to support the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and values, fostering innovation while preserving the unique cultural heritage of family enterprises. Originality/value: This study contributes to the emerging literature on AI adoption in family businesses by exploring the Turkish context. It fills a gap in the literature by examining the unique challenges and opportunities family businesses face in integrating AI, highlighting the interplay between technological innovation and traditional values. The research offers valuable insights into tailored strategies for successful AI adoption that respect the legacy and ethos of family enterprises. By focusing on the socio-cultural dimensions of technology integration, this study enriches our understanding of how family businesses can navigate digital transformation while preserving their identity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Family Business Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • AI and family firms
  • AI integration strategies
  • AI solutions for family businesses
  • Ethical AI governance
  • Family business innovation


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