Established in 1961, Kemin Industries has grown from a farmhouse in Des Moines, Iowa, to a global leader in molecular science, providing hundreds of ingredients for human and animal health that reach nearly 4 billion people daily. Servant leadership was a founding principle of R.W. and Mary Nelson and has long guided the company’s activities and positive relationships with customers, staff and stakeholders. Dr. Chris Nelson, Kemin’s CEO, shared his parent’s passion for servant leadership; he was also aware of the many global challenges (e.g. population growth, eating habits, finite resources) facing the industry and the planet as a whole. Sustainability emerged as the link that helped Kemin redefine servant leadership for the 21st century and achieve their vision of transforming the lives of the billions of people using their products every day.
Justin B. Craig and Gary Bowman
Exploring Transgenerational Entrepreneurship in Family Firms
Edited by Kevin Au, Justin B. Craig and K. Ramachandran
Kevin Au, Justin B. Craig and Kavil Ramachandran
Justin B. Craig, G. Thomas Lumpkin and Marc Meyer
We argue that four qualities account for strong and sustainable innovation outcomes in family firm settings: 1) a long-term orientation that enables family firms to be patient until investments in innovation pay off, 2) management capabilities that are difficult to imitate because they take time to develop and are socially complex, 3) a stewardship approach to decision making and operations that emphasizes high involvement by employees and cooperation with customers, and 4) prioritizing innovation activities that contribute to the identity, reputation, and enduring legacy of the family firm. These four characteristics are manifest in varying degrees among the three major “actors” that constitute a family firm - the business managers, the family, and the owners. Because these players perform different roles and have different priorities, family firms must effectively coordinate and channel their influence to achieve superior performance. In the case of innovation, the interaction of family, managers, and owners creates a “trilemma” of challenges. A trilemma suggests difficult-to-resolve tensions stemming from three arenas. For family innovators, these revolve around leveraging financial resources appropriately, administering best practices effectively, and engaging qualified personnel impartially.