Do Family Businesses Really Last Long?

One of my professional friends asked me yesterday for my views on the sustenance of family businesses. He believes that family businesses, including his wife’s family’s, do not have a chance for survival because of the inherent weaknesses of the family business system. I told him that there is no dispute about the internal contradictions in family business such as absence of choice of the family to be born into for anyone unlike joining a publicly owned corporate. However, since family is an integrated unit with love and caring among its members, I said, the idea is to make a lasting pool of love and wealth with the family business lasting longer. The discussion progressed on to institution building. We agreed that institution building is not at all easy and there are only a few institutions that have survived the test of time.

Besides having a clear strategy, organizations need a clear balance among structure, systems/processes and values on a dynamic basis to become institutions, besides a clear vision and the team. It i not easy but it is possible! We try to practice the best values of all religions though we know that it is not easy, primarily because we feel happier that way. I am convinced that trying to reach the ideal forces us to reach somewhere near it. If our goals are much lower, there is a huge chance of our attaining something mediocre. Hence, if keeping unity and tolerence of family business is our goal, we should try our best to attain the same and not get disheartened by the break up stories of some families.

Author : Dr. Kavil Ramchandra, Thomas Schmidheiny Chair Professor of Family Business and Wealth Management, Indian School Of Business Hyderabad.

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