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Family business best practices: Where from and where to?


  • Dana, Lucio E.
  • Smyrnios, Kosmas X.


This paper discusses the emergent family business best practice literature recognising a need to identify lessons for effective family firm governance and management that can be learned from successful, long-lasting businesses, whether family owned or otherwise. We review lessons characterized as family business best practices by a number of researchers, the established meaning and use of the concept best practice in the business excellence movement, and the critique of several aspects of that use. We also examine specific challenges the notion of family business best practice faces, and question the origin of identified practices and where they could be headed. Given the problematic nature and implications of best, we query whether the transition from lessons learned (local knowledge about what works) to best practices (universal knowledge about what works) is justifiable. Moreover, since family enterprises are as unique and idiosyncratic as the families that influence them, and the outstanding ones flout conventional management practices, we also ask whether characterizing lessons learned as best practices is either appropriate or necessary. We are led to conclude that the notion of family business best practice is fraught with enough difficulties to warrant avoiding or limiting its use.

Suggested Citation

  • Dana, Lucio E. & Smyrnios, Kosmas X., 2010. "Family business best practices: Where from and where to?," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 40-53, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:fambus:v:1:y:2010:i:1:p:40-53

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mary B. Rose (ed.), 1995. "Family Business," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 518.
    2. L.A.A. Berghe & Steven Carchon, 2003. "Agency Relations within the Family Business System: an exploratory approach," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 171-179, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elena Rivo-López & Mónica Villanueva-Villar & Alberto Vaquero-García, 2016. "Family office: a new category in family business research?," Working Papers. Collection C: Family business 1601, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
    2. García-Ramos, Rebeca & García-Olalla, Myriam, 2011. "Board characteristics and firm performance in public founder- and nonfounder-led family businesses," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 220-231.
    3. Hamilton, Eleanor & Discua Cruz, Allan & Jack, Sarah, 2017. "Re-framing the status of narrative in family business research: Towards an understanding of families in business," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-12.
    4. Wilson, Shawn R. & Whitmoyer, Jeffrey G. & Pieper, Torsten M. & Astrachan, Joseph H. & Hair, Joseph F. & Sarstedt, Marko, 2014. "Method trends and method needs: Examining methods needed for accelerating the field," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 4-14.
    5. Grundström, Christina & Öberg, Christina & Öhrwall Rönnbäck, Anna, 2012. "Family-owned manufacturing SMEs and innovativeness: A comparison between within-family successions and external takeovers," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 162-173.


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