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Generation to Generation: Life Cycles of the Family Business

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0875845555
ISBN-10: 087584555X
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The authors claim that between 65 to 80 percent of all businesses worldwide are family owned or managed, including up to 40 percent of the Fortune 500. Yet most of what we read about family businesses are sensational accounts of blood feuds and internecine battles over money and control. This study takes a more analytical look at what makes family firms different from other corporations; it grew out of the authors' collaboration at the Owner Managed Business Institute, where they worked on an ongoing project for Caterpillar, Inc., that began more than a dozen years ago. Now a multinational conglomerate, Caterpillar began as a family firm, and many of its products are distributed through family-operated dealerships. From that work, the authors developed a model that looked at these businesses from three different aspects: ownership, family, and business. They also identified four classic family-business types and here address the management issues that arise as firms evolve from one type to the next. David Rouse

Review

Generation to Generation is not only a Rand McNally for family businesses, it is a Fodor’s as well. Participants in family businesses, no matter what their ages, will find this book an invaluable road map and guide.” — Frank Perdue, Poultry Executive

“A seminal book about a topic usually neglected if not ignored—the family owned business—which is what makes Generation to Generation so important and vital. Bringing their rich experiences to bear, along with powerful analytic heft, the authors have written what will be, in a very short time, a classic.” — Warren Bennis, University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California, and author of Organizing Genius and On Becoming a Leader

“A family controlled business can be a blessing or a curse. For those of us fated to cope with these issues, Generation to Generation is a long overdue ‘must read.’” — William K. Coors, Chairman of the Board & President, Adolph Coors Company

“Anyone interested in the survival of the family business should read this book carefully. In a very sensible and sensitive way the authors provide a wealth of insight into the generational vicissitudes of this kind of enterprise.” — Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, Clinical Professor of Management and Leadership, INSEAD

“The authors have zeroed in on the distinctive culture, the unique strengths, and the complexities and challenges of the family controlled business. In practice, this model will help those who run, consult with, or work for family businesses.” — Ralph J. Roberts, Chairman, Comcast Corporation
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087584555X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875845555
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Most businesses in the world today are owned by families, but only a small percentage of these companies will survive and grow into major corporations. The unique challenges posed by family ownership can undermine even the best-performing small business, as issues of control and succession permeate the generations. In Generation to Generation, the authors apply the simple premise that managing a family-owned business to a large extent means managing the family itself. To that end, they provide a rich compendium of research and strategic suggestions for those charged with making a family business work, including the consultants who guide them. We from getAbstract highly recommend this book for these applicable measures and methods, which will help the performance of both business and family.
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Format: Hardcover
I think this is one of the best books available on family businesses! I found it insightful and informative. I think anyone interested in the subject should read this book. I strongly disagree with the review that describes this book as "too theoretical." I found it immensly practical.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors took ten years studying hundreds of family firms to write this very deep and understanding description of how a family business develops trhu time. A must for anyone interested in this fascinating subject.
Antonio C. Vidigal
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Format: Hardcover
"Generation to Generation", published by Harvard Business School Press, is an attempt to model how family businesses work in essence. The authors' research include interesting vignettes and 'lessons-learned' from a variety of families; how they achieved their goals, how they resolved conflicts between family members etc. Since the topic of family business in academics is fairly new, this book can be considered as one of the best in its field.
Important topics (such as succession, development stages and inter & intragenerational issues) are covered in detail to enlighten the reader. Contrasting viewpoints are also included to make the reader think for his or herself.
In general, the book is fairly easy to read since it explains the modeling theory with examples from numerous enterprises.
I strongly recommend it all who are destined to work in the complex system called family business.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors effectively present a theoretical, as well as practical model of family business dynamics, incorporating the complexities of development over time. This book is a must-read to gain a deep understanding of families in business from the key perspectives of familiy, business, and ownership. Their use of case examples effectively illustrate the practical application and relevance of theory. To sum it up, it's steak AND sizzle!
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Format: Hardcover
A very well methodical approach on issues relating to governance of a family business which invariably covers multi-dimensional issues of emotions, tradition, moving forward and competing interests. Short of meeting John Davis himself, this is a good guide for a 'family' business. John Davis with his experience over more than 30 years consulting family businesses world wide crystalises some hard issues family enterprise deals with. It covers Dimensional development model of Ownership, Family and Business as well as the 4 Classic Family Business Types right through to Managing the developing a family business. It can be a good guide not only to family businesses but also those who work closely with or for family businesses such as consultants and key employees.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book Review: Generation to Generation

Generation to Generation: Life Cycles of the Family Business is, in my opinion, a major contribution to the study and understanding of the complex nature of this most basic of human occupations - the family business.

As a business anthropologist, I found the life-cycle model applied to the study of the family business eye opening from both an academic and practical perspective.

There is a saying among family business owners and consultants that expresses the folk wisdom of about the family business as an institution and enterprise. It goes something like this , "The first generation creates, the second builds, and the third consumes the family business."

A business is an institution and organization created to perform the function of making money, i.e. producing an income, for the owner(s) by producing a good or service to meet a public need. The business can be as simple as the one person/owner/operator start-up shoe shine stand at the airport to the $7.5 billion a year 5th generation conglomerate, S.C. Johnson & Sons.

Although each is uniquely different, yet each will face, now face or has faced, the same challenges and crisis to its survival outlined in this model.

Gersick, Davis, Hampton and Lansberg develop a life cycle model for the family business that explains in clear, objective and sound social science terms why there is so much truth to this folk wisdom. The authors define the three key domains in which the family business exists and in which it must survive. Each of these domains has its own dynamic and its own life cycle. Each responds to different and sometimes conflicting demands from its environment.
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