Throughout the development of the field, family business scholars have sought to identify the sources of distinctiveness for family firms. One promising stream in this arena has been familiness (Habbershon & Williams, 1999), which applies resource based view to the family context. Familiness contends that the idiosyncratic family influence on firm level resources explains the competitive advantages or disadvantages of family firms.

Despite its conceptual power, there has been great difficulty in operationalizing familiness into a functional research construct. Pearson et al (2008) make a strong movement to clarify and focus the concept in this direction using a social capital perspective as does Sharma (2008) with a broader discussion of family influenced resource pools. Still, there have been few empirical articles on familiness despite Habbershon and Williams (1999) call that “it is the conditions and antecedents of distinctive familiness that researchers ultimately need to clarify” (1999:13). Our article serves to meet this gap in the literature through the first in depth exploration of the distinctive properties and consequences of a single resource, reputation.