A multiple case study of successful family business succession

by Frese, Kent E., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 166 pages; 3686489


A multiple case study design was used to examine the characteristics of successful family business succession in three companies. The companies selected have successfully completed the transition from the first to second generation and the owners feel that the process was a success. In addition, the study included perspectives from owners, spouses and employees who experienced the process. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 participants in three companies located in the Northeastern United States to capture the stories of stakeholders from second generation family businesses. A cross case analysis identified five themes important to succession: (a) plan as you go, (b) shared family values, (c) founder role shift, (d) family mentor, and (e) successor leadership. The study provided insights that may be useful for family business owners contemplating succession. While all of the cases followed different tactics to achieve success, the characteristics that allowed these successors to succeed is remarkably consistent. Theories explaining family business are not well developed and no theory completely explains succession, but the themes align well with goal setting theory, social cognitive theory, social constructivism, and situated learning theory. Considering the perspective provided by the themes and the apparent lack of a simple sequence of steps for succession (i.e., a recipe), a set of rules for succession success are outlined. This study also provides a model of successful succession and additional descriptive case study data on family business succession.

AdviserDeborah Vogele-Welch
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEntrepreneurship; Management; Individual & family studies
Publication Number3686489

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