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Guillaume JACQUOT


Strategic Management in Family Business
In France, generally, family businesses are twice more profitable than other companies. There are some family businesses like Michelin, Mulliez (Auchan), Billecart Salmon (Champagne); and so on… Usually, in Europe, firms are family businesses. 59% of 500 most important firms are family businesses. In Italy, 90% of firms are family business… So, Family businesses are very important. But why? Organisation, strategy, production, values are different in this type of firm because family influences decisions of the company. Processes and decision makings are influenced by family considerations. So, decisions are not only well-founded on commercial logic but also on family demands. Relations moderate self-interest and conflicts. But, we could also find some family business with conflicts. So, more family is important, more the risks of conflicts increase. We don’t find managers with opportunistic behaviour because in family business, evolution of company is managers’ self-interest and that is why chairman rotation is very low. In family businesses, human dimension is most important than in other types of company. They also prefer effective and emotional dimension in decision makings. Taking into account, chairman prefers low risked investments and financings to preserve inheritance. Family business is known to have long-term view to pass company to next generations. So, they easily take risks. Family ties lengthen investment horizon; that is why they realise effective investments. We can say that if company stays in family, it encourages family managers to realise investments that will be profitable for next generations. Like in others type of companies, influential players on strategic process are internally players but in family business there are also externally players like cousins, wife, uncle… For instance, chairman’s wife could play role which is often an invisible role. My father was chairman of board directors in his family business, but there were always ethic and family problem in each decision: some things can’t be done because it could be a problem for a cousin, an uncle or a cousin’s wife… We have to work with colleagues but also with all the family! When I said that human dimension is very important, it is true: when firm had been sold, any employees phoned my father. For senior employees, they felt belong to our family and they could lose their job but they had lost members of the family. But it is the same for my father and his cousins: when they searched the buyer, they had chosen, above all, the one that promised the less loss of jobs. I believe that what I wrote is true for medium-sized firms. When a family business is the first, second or third on a market, the game is not the same. For example, commercial logic becomes more important than family demands.