Family Business

Why is it so important to research and understand family-owned businesses?


3 min




Listen to Dr. Joseph Astrachan, who teaches family business at Kennesaw State University share his views on the importance of investing in quality research on family business systems' dynamics in order to better understand and support business families and their enterprises. As much study material revolves around non-family businesses, professional advice given to family business has a chance of being unhelpful. The future, however, is bright regarding the development of research in family businesses, and the eventual integration of this information in reputable institutions.





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Dr. Joseph H. Astrachan

Over the years, business schools have tended to stray away from family qualities. My belief is that it is because the information available for study is largely available on non-family businesses. That you cannot get information on family business. Family businesses do not provide in-depth access, so we study what we have access to, and what we have access to is a very limited part of the population of business. That limited part of the population of business is different from family business, but the research on it is very conclusive. So you have a lot of academics, a lot of PhD’s who believe that they know the truth, and they do, for non-family businesses. The professionals, by and large, are giving advice that is based in the 1960’s and early 70’s. Much of their advice is inconsistent with the research and ... View More their giving advice that is at best neutral, and at worst harmful to the families. What I would like to see is the professionals take a much more active interest in the research on what works and doesn’t work in family business but in order for that to happen, we would need somebody who could translate that research into words that the professionals could understand and use. In addition, we would need someone else who was promoting the heroes of the professionals, those who are doing it right so that people would have role models to look up to and would say, if we’re not doing it the way this hero is doing it, maybe we’re doing it wrong, and we should now change the way we’re doing it. I think the future is very bright. Sooner or later, it will start to catch on at the institutions that have a greater reputation and when those institutions affirm the work that’s been done over the past 25 years, affirm what we know to be effective and successful, it will spread at a much greater rate.