Continuity and Change in Latin America and Spain
Edited by Paloma Fernández Pérez and Andrea Lluch
Chapter 10: Between power and the market: an approach to the historical evolution of large family businesses in Spain in the twentieth century
Family-controlled businesses dominate Spanish business history, but no official statistics exist, nor have long-term studies using comparable and rigorous methodology ever been done. This chapter is a pioneering contribution, gathering together indicators that allow the documentation of some historical transformations in Spanish family capitalism between the mid twentieth century and early twenty-first century. These transformations are particularly found in organizational structures and growth strategies adapted to technological and political changes and the new opening of markets. We also provide evidence of continuities, such as the predominance of activities related to services and the enduring specialization of some families in industrial sectors like construction and auxiliary industries. The work is organized chronologically into three significant phases of Spanish economic history: the first third of the twentieth century, with its industrial consolidation and slowing down; the Franco era (1939–75); and the last phase, with crisis, the entry into Europe and accelerated internationalization (1976 until the present). In each phase, we identify the families that have formed the so-called elite of Spanish family capitalism. Also, we provide for each phase the indicators of the evolution of the largest family businesses, be it decline or expansion, analysing the main exogenous and endogenous determinants that would explain why some businesses endure while others end up disappearing or transforming themselves.
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