The Landscape of Family Business

The Landscape of Family Business

Edited by Ritch L. Sorenson, Andy Yu, Keith H. Brigham and G. T. Lumpkin

The Landscape of Family Business expands upon groundbreaking research to offer owners, consultants, and academics a new holistic way to view family business.

Chapter 8: Succession in family firms

Massimo Baù, Karin Hellerstedt, Mattias Nordqvist and Karl Wennberg

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, family business


The process of succession in family firms is often both lengthy and complex, and is influenced by factors such as the personal goals of the owner-manager, family structure, ability and ambitions of potential successors, and legal and financial issues (Le Breton-Miller, Miller, & Steier, 2004). Scholars of family business tend to emphasize what determines successful ownership and management succession involving family members and non-family stakeholders, alongside the general characteristics of effective succession (Handler, 1994; Le Breton-Miller et al., 2004; Sharma, Chrisman, & Chua, 2003a). A majority of privately held firms in many developed countries are likely to shift ownership as the owners approach retirement. Thus, from a public policy perspective, there is a need to study the conditions surrounding successful succession of family firms and the implications of these successions in the socio-economic context. This chapter presents a comprehensive review of the scholarly literature on ownership transition and management succession in family firms. We found that most of the literature on succession is conceptual or relies on a small number of cases and/or surveys based on convenience samples.

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