Management Managing Family Business
Giacomo Laffranchini, Frank Hoy
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 February 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0073


The study of family business involves interrelationships of owners, managers and employees, and family members, all functioning within broad cultural, legal, competitive, and other environments. Foundational disciplines for investigating family business management practices include anthropology, economics, family studies, history, psychology, and sociology. Additional contributing fields include agriculture, various business disciplines, early childhood education, and family behavior (among others). Early contributions to the family business literature came predominantly from biographies and autobiographies of family business owners and from consultants to families active in business who shared their observations and advice based on their experience. With the introduction of the journal Family Business Review, the subsequent launch of other journals addressing the subject, and the initiation of academic conferences on family business research, the knowledge base of the field has expanded rapidly. The domain of managing family business now encompasses the dynamics of families that exercise control over enterprises as well as the performance of those companies. The notion of management includes both the business and the family, separate as well as together. Major themes addressed in the family business literature are succession, governance, and financial and wealth management. With increased research contributions from scholars in diverse fields, there has been an expansion in topics being covered. In this article, the focus is on the state of knowledge regarding the management of the family firm. The materials cited in this bibliography introduce scholars to seminal contributions to the family business management literature and to books and journal articles that are expected to influence forthcoming streams of research.


At present, a minority of business departments, schools, and colleges offer courses in family business. As a result, publishers have not been proactive in underwriting and producing textbooks. Poza and Daugherty 2018 is now in its 5th edition. A 1st edition, Howorth and Robinson 2021 strives to integrate case studies and related exercises with mainstream research in family firms. Many instructors choose case method instruction, with cases representing the exclusive required readings, sometimes supplemented with textbook or article readings. Other instructors assign books written by authors who are primarily consultants, some of whom have academic appointments. As a result, material contained in assigned textbooks varies widely across institutions. Dominant themes are management, governance, and planning. While many family business courses provide multiple perspectives of the family-owned venture (senior generation, successors, non-family managers and employees, lenders and investors, and more), McCann 2013 offers a text specifically directed toward students who may be joining a company as potential successors, with McCann encouraging interaction between senior and junior generations. Finally, Zellweger 2017 is a comprehensive text that relies heavily on scholarly research in providing prescriptions for students.

  • Howorth, Carol, and Nick Robinson. Family Business. 1st ed. New York: Routledge, 2021.

    The book integrates case studies with concepts drawn from mainstream family business research in order to increase awareness regarding the challenges connected with the management of a family business. The book is designed for students interested in entrepreneurship in general as well as for those who are focused more specifically on family business. In addition to cases and concepts, the book includes exercises geared at facilitating the development of relevant skills for the management of a family business.

  • McCann, Greg. When Your Parents Sign the Paychecks: Finding Success Inside or Outside the Family Enterprise. 2d ed. Deland, FL: McCann & Associates, 2013.

    The author of this textbook developed the first undergraduate major in family business in the United States. His book is designed for students who come from family-owned business backgrounds. The book provides development strategies for entering the family firm as well as choosing an alternative path.

  • Poza, Ernesto J., and Mary S. Daugherty. Family Business. 5th ed. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2018.

    The 1st edition of this book had a 2003 publication date with Poza as sole author. While other, more traditional textbooks were already available, Poza’s text quickly dominated the market. Subject matter addressed in the 5th edition includes family dynamics, ownership, governance, succession, strategic planning, and estate planning (among others).

  • Zellweger, Thomas. Managing the Family Business: Theory and Practice. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2017.

    This book is derived from research published by scholars in order to introduce students to the current body of knowledge regarding family business. In addition to concepts, the book contains cases and reflection questions.

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