Tag Archives: emotion

The Ties That Bind

David Ransburg

Have you already given up on your New Year’s resolution? If so, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology (http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/), only 8% of those who make a New Year’s resolution are actually successful in achieving their resolution.

So, why am I discussing this on a website about family businesses? The answer lies in one of the proven tactics for experiencing greater success when you find yourself struggling to take action: turn to a group for some support… and, the most fundamental group, or social network, is the family.

The mechanism behind the power of social networks is not completely clear, but what IS clear is that you will have better success in changing your behavior if you attempt that change as part of a social network.

What is really interesting is that it is not just people you interact with directly who impact your behavior. Extensive study by Harvard’s Nicholas Christakis (http://christakis.med.harvard.edu/av/video/TED_superorganism.mp4) shows that people who are as far away as three degrees of separation from you (i.e., your friend’s friend’s friend) can have a significant impact on your behavior… even if you never interact directly!

If your friend’s friend’s friend that you’ve never met can impact your emotions and your behaviors, then imagine how powerful the impact is of family members you work with frequently – even if that family member is a distant cousin based at a far-flung satellite office! The point is, even if the connection isn’t readily apparent, it is there… and, it is meaningful.

If it’s not just what each of you does individually that matters, but also the connection between you, then maintaining those connections is incredibly important. Like many things in life, connections will weaken and eventually disappear if neglected or mistreated. So, invest in those family connections… even the distant ones. That would be a New Year’s resolution worth keeping!

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions related to your family business?


Developing Next Generation Emotional Attachment

We’ve been involved in some recent research on what develops emotional attachment for the next generation. We believe the following tactics are all worthwhile. We find that their effectiveness is in the priority by which they are listed. In other words, the first, best idea is early internships.

  1. Internships in the family business.
  2. Personal ownership of some shares.
  3. Interactions with family business stakeholders.
  4. Family harmony.
  5. Frequency informal, informational “tweets”.
  6. Excellent governance.
  7. Educational workshops about the family business.
  8. Expectations by parent(s) to join the family business.
  9. Employment exchange with another family business.
  10. Work experience outside the family business.
  11. Parent(s) is leader of the family business.
  12. Formal reports and communications forums.

Family Business Conflict

Kent Rhodes

According to some experts, conflict is “a process that begins when an individual or group perceives differences and opposition between itself and another individual or group about interests and resources, beliefs, values or practices that matter to them”[1].  While that definition is accurate, it isn’t quite enough to accurately describe conflicts that are common to family business. 

Today, many enterprising families also collaborate in managing family offices, overseeing philanthropic endeavors through established family foundations, or sharing control of other public/ private enterprises. While all collaborations will run into their share of disagreements, the unique qualities of family at the intersection of these enterprises bring special challenges to effectively managing conflict. The dynamics that can produce conflict within a family simultaneously intersect with the challenges of owning and operating a business, introducing emotional and historical dynamics that complicate solutions and opportunities. 

It is important to bear in mind that when managed correctly, some conflicts can be beneficial – for example spurring important new ideas, innovations and energy for the business. While knowing how to manage conflict and leverage it into an advantage may not be immediately clear, and the emotional load of conflict in a family business can feel threatening – it is important not to avoid conflict, but to work to address it effectively for the benefit of the family and the business.


[1] De Dreu, Harinck, & Van Vianen, (1999). Conflict and performance in groups and organizations. In Cooper & Robertson (Eds.), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Vol 14, pp. 369-414). Chichester, UK: Wiley.