Each family that runs its own business also has its own culture, say two psychologists who work with wealthy families. And understanding those cultures — which these psychologists break down into three groups — can make it easier to resolve intergenerational or cross-cultural conflicts that arise as the business matures and expands.
The psychologists, James Grubman and Dennis T. Jaffe, last year published a book that offers a framework for understanding the three cultural approaches that they say prevail in family businesses. The “individualists,” who tend to be clustered in North America and Western Europe, foster creativity at the employee level. The “collective harmony” view, which prevails in parts of Asia, views family and business as an integrated whole.
This is the 5th in a series of working papers reporting on our intensive interview study of long-term successful families around the world. No business remains the same after a 100-year journey. Every long-lasting family enterprise learns how to navigate developmental and business crises as it crosses generations. This paper presents the business journeys of the nearly 100 long-lasting families in our study. Their resilience stems from continual innovation and transformation. We look at their major transformations—harvesting, pruning, diversifying and grounding—and at how the family is able to build an adaptive, sustainable culture.