Cross-generational family strategies

Past and present of exercised family strategies


It is one task of the management of a family business to secure for generations that the family is a resource for the enterprise. Today family strategies are key factors to keep the connection between the two complex systems “family” and “enterprise” vivid, to specifically promote constructive influences of both systems on each other and to minimise destructive influences.

„Family strategies“ have already existed before they were denominated as such. Regulations were always in great demand to guarantee even in the generation of the great-grandchildren a strong and beneficial relation between the enterprise and the supposedly grown family. These “intuitive family strategies” are not always unproblematic. Often present conflicts are directly due to strategic decisions of the previous family generation. This is especially valid when critical family constellations were not anticipated and when there are no provisions for conflicts or clashes. Especially the knowledge of the psychological background dynamics of family businesses that are important for any objective decision or regulation is decisive for the sustainability of the respective chosen family strategy.

In context of this research project 12 multi-generational family businesses deal together with scientists of the WIFU with the respective family strategy exercised in past and present times. The major question is how entrepreneurial families decide in critical situations and how does the underlying psychological dynamic look like.

The qualitative research design rests upon the basic principles of Witten didactics: Family entrepreneurs learn best from family businesses. The participating scientists carve out the strategic patterns that are characteristic for the family and identify from the single case comprehensive topics that concerns the family management of the participating enterprises

Contact persons: Thorsten Groth, Arist von Schlippe, Tom Rüsen

Further information about this topic is available in our topic section “Family Strategy”.