Sascha Kraus and Rainer Harms Family businesses are said to be the originating form of any business activity (Wakefield, 1995), dominating the economic landscape of most major economies in the world (Astrachan and Shanker, 2003; Heck and Stafford, 2001; Klein, 2000; Morck and Yeung, 2003; Shanker and Astrachan, 1996). More than two-thirds of all enterprises worldwide are said to be family-owned and/or managed (Gersick et al., 1997). The lifespan of family businesses is however often relatively short, as only a limited number survive the transition to the second generation, and hardly one-third even into the third generation (Beckhard and Dyer, 1983; Neubauer and Lank, 1998; Paisner, 1999; Shanker and Astrachan, 1996). The Steinberg supermarkets, for example, were first launched in Canada in 1912, had great success under the leadership of Sam Steinberg (see Figure 19.1) but this family business disappeared in 1992. Due to the high importance of family businesses, academia has finally begun to recognize their necessity as a research object (Chrisman et al. 2006). According to Dyer Jr (2003), the field of management studies has paid insufficient attention the family Figure 19.1 Mr Sam Steinberg; photograph by Léo-Paul Dana 178 M2538 - DANA PRINT.indd 178 25/02/2011 08:37 Family business 179 businesses’ unique theoretical and practical problems so far. The interest in family business research has consequently grown significantly in recent years, leading to a distinctive legitimate and emerging field of study within entrepreneurship research, into which also the Academy of Management classifies this topic. The reason...
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