Dynamic capabilities in a sixth-generation family firm: Entrepreneurship and the Bibby Line

Oswald Jones*, Abby Ghobadian, Nicholas O'Regan, Valerie Antcliff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we draw on the theory of dynamic capabilities to examine development of the only surviving family-owned Liverpool shipping company. The Bibby Line was founded in 1807 to take advantage of the growing sea-trade based in Liverpool. The company remained in shipping until the mid-1960s, when a series of external crises led the owner, Derek Bibby, to begin a process of diversification. In the last 50 years, the Bibby Line has grown into a £1bn business with interests in retail, distribution and financial services as well as a continuing commitment to shipping. Our intention is to demonstrate how multigenerational ownership contributes to the creation of dynamic capabilities in family firms. The distinctive nature of Bibby as a long-standing family business is related to unique assets such as patient capital, flexible governance structures as well as the ability to mobilise social and human capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910-941
Number of pages32
JournalBusiness History
Issue number6
Early online date14 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


  • diversification
  • dynamic capabilities
  • entrepreneurship
  • familiness
  • resource-based view
  • shipping
  • strategic renewal


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