Around the world, “business” is almost synonymous with “family business”. The Tata family’s commercial empire in India has lasted generations and spans industries from cotton and steel to IT consulting and solar grids, and Tata family members are still active in managing the enterprise. My favorite local restaurant in Menlo Park, California, is also a family business, with a daughter waiting tables, a son in the kitchen, and a dad at the cash register taking phone-in orders.
Family businesses are certainly pervasive. But what about family business dynasties — enterprises that are actively managed by the family for three or more generations, like the Tata family conglomerate? These are common in some places and rare in others. Why? And have the factors that support family business changed in ways that make business dynasties less likely in the future?
This is an increasingly salient issue. Most small businesses in the US are owned by baby boomers who are at or beyond…
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