Universities preparing students for future challenges of family business enterprises

Publication Date04 May 2020
Date04 May 2020
AuthorTashfeen Ahmad
SubjectStrategy,Business ethics,Sustainability
Universities preparing students for
future challenges of family
business enterprises
Tashfeen Ahmad
University Office of Planning, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica
Importance of family business
Family businesses have vital economic (Kellermanns et al., 2008) and social (Heck and
Stafford, 2001) contributions as they increase employment and economic output of most
economies around the world (Shepherd and Zacharakis, 2000).
Research in family business is emerging (Zahra et al., 2006); however, scholars have begun
to recognize the importance of family businesses and their connection to entrepreneurship in
the recent years (Zachary and Mishra, 2011). Furthermore, research indicates that there is a
strong need for family businesses to come up with innovative plans in response to
globalization (Buxey, 2005).
Definition of family business
Family business has many definitions. A firm, of any size, is a family business that satisfies
the following criteria:
(1) The majority of decision-making rights is in the possession of the natural person(s)
who established the firm, or in the possession of the natural person(s) who has/have
acquired the share capital of the firm, or in the possession of their spouses, parents,
child or childrens direct heirs,
(2) The majority of decision-making rights are indirect or direct,
(3) At least one representative of the family or kin is formally involved in the governance
of the firm and
(4) Listed companies meet the definition of family enterprise if the person who
established or acquired the firm (share capital) or their families or descendants
possess 25 per cent of the decision-making rights mandated by their share capital
(European Commission, 2009, p. 4).
Davis and Stern (1983, p. 47) define family business as: an organization in which policy and
direction are subject to significant influence by one or more family units through
Using an academics lens, family business can be defined as a business governed and/or
managed with the intention to shape and pursue the vision of the business held by a dominant
coalition controlled by members of the same family or a small number of families in a manner
that is potentially sustainable across generations of the family or families(Chua et al., 1999,
p. 25).
Viewing family businesses with a practitioners lens, it can be suggested that family
business vary in their familynessand that it is the degree to which the family determines
the behaviour and direction of the business that matters (Astrachan et al., 2002).
students for
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 28 January 2019
Accepted 1 April 2019
World Journal of
Entrepreneurship, Management
and Sustainable Development
Vol. 16 No. 2, 2020
pp. 57-69
© Emerald Publishing Limited

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