Between Family Heritage and Global Market: Changes in Ownership and Management of Large West-German Family Firms (1960-2008)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Large family firms fall between two theoretical accounts. Neither do they follow the development path described by Alfred D. Chandler nor do they resemble small- and medium sized Mittelstand firms, which Gary Herrigel highlighted as a successful alternative. That is why so far there has been little research about them beyond individual case studies. This article focuses on large family firms in Germany during the second half of the twentieth century. Based on a regionally focused sample of 310 businesses the author offers insights into their ownership and management in 1960 and asks how the firms developed until 2008. The majority of large family firms had surprisingly homogenous characteristics, such as concentrated long-term family ownership, few shareholders, and family management. This structure was successful within the historical context of the 1960s but came under attack during the crisis-ridden decades that followed. By tracing these changes, the paper simultaneously shows that the theoretical dichotomy of family and managerial firm is misleading. Instead of interpreting the family firm as a static organization, the focus should shift to the family influence, which evolves with time and with the evolution of business’s macroeconomic and political environments.
Translated title of the contributionBetween Family Heritage and Global Market : Changes in Ownership and Management of Large West-German Family Firms (1960-2008)
Large family firms fall between two theoretical accounts. Neither do they follow the development path described by Alfred D. Chandler nor do they resemble small- and medium sized Mittelstand firms, which Gary Herrigel highlighted as a successful alternative. That is why so far there has been little research about them beyond individual case studies. This article focuses on large family firms in Germany during the second half of the twentieth century. Based on a regionally focused sample of 310 businesses the author offers insights into their ownership and management in 1960 and asks how the firms developed until 2008. The majority of large family firms had surprisingly homogenous characteristics, such as concentrated long-term family ownership, few shareholders, and family management. This structure was successful within the historical context of the 1960s but came under attack during the crisis-ridden decades that followed. By tracing these changes, the paper simultaneously shows that the theoretical dichotomy of family and managerial firm is misleading. Instead of interpreting the family firm as a static organization, the focus should shift to the family influence, which evolves with time and with the evolution of business’s macroeconomic and political environments.
LanguageGerman
JournalZeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte
Volume55
Issue number2
Pages204-229
ISSN0342-2852
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

CBS Library does not have access to the material

Cite this

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abstract = "Large family firms fall between two theoretical accounts. Neither do they follow the development path described by Alfred D. Chandler nor do they resemble small- and medium sized Mittelstand firms, which Gary Herrigel highlighted as a successful alternative. That is why so far there has been little research about them beyond individual case studies. This article focuses on large family firms in Germany during the second half of the twentieth century. Based on a regionally focused sample of 310 businesses the author offers insights into their ownership and management in 1960 and asks how the firms developed until 2008. The majority of large family firms had surprisingly homogenous characteristics, such as concentrated long-term family ownership, few shareholders, and family management. This structure was successful within the historical context of the 1960s but came under attack during the crisis-ridden decades that followed. By tracing these changes, the paper simultaneously shows that the theoretical dichotomy of family and managerial firm is misleading. Instead of interpreting the family firm as a static organization, the focus should shift to the family influence, which evolves with time and with the evolution of business’s macroeconomic and political environments.",
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Zwischen Familienerbe und globalem Markt : Eigentum und Management von großen westdeutschen Familienunternehmen im Wandel (1960 bis 2008). / Lubinski, Christina.

In: Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte, Vol. 55, No. 2, 2010, p. 204-229.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Zwischen Familienerbe und globalem Markt

T2 - Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte

AU - Lubinski,Christina

N1 - CBS Bibliotek har ikke adgang til materialet

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

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AB - Large family firms fall between two theoretical accounts. Neither do they follow the development path described by Alfred D. Chandler nor do they resemble small- and medium sized Mittelstand firms, which Gary Herrigel highlighted as a successful alternative. That is why so far there has been little research about them beyond individual case studies. This article focuses on large family firms in Germany during the second half of the twentieth century. Based on a regionally focused sample of 310 businesses the author offers insights into their ownership and management in 1960 and asks how the firms developed until 2008. The majority of large family firms had surprisingly homogenous characteristics, such as concentrated long-term family ownership, few shareholders, and family management. This structure was successful within the historical context of the 1960s but came under attack during the crisis-ridden decades that followed. By tracing these changes, the paper simultaneously shows that the theoretical dichotomy of family and managerial firm is misleading. Instead of interpreting the family firm as a static organization, the focus should shift to the family influence, which evolves with time and with the evolution of business’s macroeconomic and political environments.

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JO - Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte

JF - Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte

SN - 0342-2852

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