Succession in Family Businesses: Experiences of Daughter CEOs -- Margaret M.C. Humphreys, Student, School of Human & Organizational Development
This qualitative research explores succession in family businesses by studying the succession experiences of women at the helm: all daughter successors. It provides a comprehensive insider view of the succession process and a glimpse into the lives of the successors. The findings show the succession process unfolds gradually and is heavily influenced by the dynamic interactions of incumbent, successor, and business. This triad is central, although several contextual layers impact succession. There is a continuous interchange between family and business systems. Family influence is strongest on succession when family culture is well established, whether harmonious or acrimonious. A close mentoring relationship between successor and incumbent appeared as the preferred vehicle to transfer leadership. The successors are dedicated, hold high intrinsic value for their work, and have relevant educational and business credentials. They make changes in their organizations and have a propensity to apply their superior interpersonal skills in family and business situations. The successions involved managing the diametrically opposed demands of membership in family and business systems. The literature review traces the pattern and trajectory of scholarly activity in the field of family business studies and specifically addresses the research related to women in family business. It identifies key researchers of the day and analyzes the content of their discourse. Succession is found to be the most-researched topic in family business, whereas daughter successors are among the least-researched. Areas indicated for further research include systems level inquiry to succession, the role of mentoring during succession, and the influence of emotional competence as a successor quality. This study suggests those helping family business would be well advised to gain an understanding of the family’s architecture and ought be wary of applying standard business models to family firms.