Handbook of Research on Family Business
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Handbook of Research on Family Business

Edited by Panikklos Zata Poutziouris, Kosmas X. Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein

The Handbook of Research on Family Business provides a comprehensive first port of call for those wishing to survey progress in the theory and practice of family business research. In response to the extensive growth of family business as a topic of academic inquiry, the principal objective of the Handbook is to provide an authoritative and scholarly overview of current thinking in this multidisciplinary field.
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Chapter 20: Lost in Time: Intergenerational Succession, Change and Failure in Family Business

Danny Miller, Lloyd Steier and Isabelle Le Breton-Miller


21 Towards a business family dynasty: a lifelong, continuing process Johan Lambrecht and Rik Donckels Many articles on family business open with the assertion that fewer than 30 per cent of family businesses are passed on to the second generation and that only 10 per cent make it to the third generation (Lansberg, 1999). The average lifespan of a family business is 24 years, which coincides with the number of years that the founder remains at the helm of the business (Welles, 1995). After this time, the business may continue to exist, but the ownership and the leadership do not belong anymore to the family. It is often stated that a family business ‘goes to the dogs’ in three generations, an observation that is expressed quite baldly in some countries; for example, in Mexico the statement is ‘father– entrepreneur, son–playboy, and grandson–beggar’ (Davis, 1997). These observations have spurred many researchers and consultants to study succession in family business. Succession and interpersonal family dynamics appeared to be the most frequently occurring subjects in 1998, when the Family Business Review drew up a balance sheet of ten years of scientific study on family business (Dyer and Sánchez, 1998). Even today, the impression remains that family business and succession are like a pair of Siamese twins. For example, current seminars about family business and for family business members deal with succession. Attention is focused on a timely succession plan, in which the financial, fiscal–legal, and emotional issues are...

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