Why Family Businesses Struggle

  • Randel S. Carlock
  • John L. Ward
Part of the A Family Business Publication book series (AFBP)


Dysfunctional, prone to nepotism and family conflict, uninterested. This is how family businesses are often seen. Even in the business press, the family business model is regularly portrayed as outmoded or problematic. However, recent evidence shows that family firms tend to outperform their widely traded competitors. A research study in the Journal of Finance found that family businesses outperform public companies on key dimensions such as stock price and return on equity. The Credit Suisse Bank’s global index shows that family firms have outperformed the MSCI World Index by 4.8 percent since January 2007.1 How can this disparity be explained? Our work as researchers, teachers, and consultants suggests that family businesses can indeed be both the best and the worst: the best because they have some unique strengths (long-term vision, strong values, committed ownership); the worst, because they are more complex than other businesses, and they require more attention, better planning, and governance — which they do not always receive.


Family Firm Parallel Planning Family Business Wall Street Journal Family Ownership 
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Copyright information

© Randel S. Carlock and John L. Ward 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randel S. Carlock
    • 1
  • John L. Ward
    • 2
  1. 1.Wendel International Centre for Family EnterpriseINSEADFrance
  2. 2.Center for Family Enterprises, Kellogg School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityUSA

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