Management Managing Family Business
Giacomo Laffranchini, Frank Hoy
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 February 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 February 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0073


The study of family business involves the interrelationships of owners, managers and employees, and family members, all functioning within broader 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, family behavior, and others. Early contributions to the family business literature came predominantly from biographies and autobiographies of family business owners and from consultants to families in business who shared their observations and advice from their experiences. 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 encompasses the dynamics of families that exercise control over enterprises and the performance of those companies. The notion of management includes both the business and the family, separate and 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 of 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 article introduce scholars to seminal contributions to the management of family business literature and to books and journal articles that are expected to influence forthcoming streams of research.


In the early 21st century, a minority of business departments, schools, and colleges offer courses in family business. As a result, publishers have not been aggressive in underwriting and producing textbooks. Poza and Daugherty 2014 is in its fourth edition. Many instructors choose case method instruction, with cases representing the exclusive required readings or supplemented with readings of texts, articles, or both. Other instructors assign books written by authors who are primarily consultants, some of whom have academic appointments. As a result, material contained in the assigned books varies widely among institutions. Dominant themes are management, governance, and planning. While many family business courses provide multiple perspectives of the family-owned venture (senior generation, successors, nonfamily managers and employees, lenders and investors, and more), McCann 2013 offers a text specifically directed toward students who may be entering a company as potential successors. Greg McCann encourages interaction between the senior and junior generations. Zellweger 2017 is a comprehensive text that relies heavily on scholarly research in providing prescriptions for students.

  • 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. 4th ed. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2014.

    The first edition of this book had a 2003 publication date with Poza as sole author. Other traditional textbooks had been previously introduced, but Poza’s text quickly dominated the market. Subject matter addressed in the fourth edition includes family dynamics, ownership, governance, succession, strategic planning, estate planning, and more.

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

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

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