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Keeping It In The Family

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We’re sort of obsessed with family firms. They’re intriguing because their persistence and success seem to go against the grain of so much contemporary thinking. Unlike in times past, people now are kind of uncomfortable with the idea that who you are and what you’re capable of depends on who you are related to. Sure, we all think it helps to be born with certain material “advantages” but there’s also the tendency to think that these problems can be ironed out with proper professional training and equality of opportunity. Discovering the business success might be a heritable trait is a bit discomfiting, to say the least.
A lot of people have a lot invested in the idea of the professional manager. Business schools, for instance. But as this review of business historian David S. Landes’ new book Dynasties points out, “the business-school mythos of the ‘professional manager’has led to a persistent underestimation of the importance of family firms. Fully a third of Fortune 500 companies can properly be characterized as family businesses, and on average they outperform the “professionally managed” firm by a surprisingly large margin.”
See? It really does matter who your daddy is. Except when it doesn't.
Old Money [New York Times]