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Family Business

Propensity Of An Incumbent To Step Aside

Propensity of an incumbent to step aside is the ability of the present family member manager to let go of the leadership of a family business and hand it over to a successor (Davis 1992). Thorelli (1986) has shown that the propensity of an incumbent to step aside is positively related to how much the incumbent trusts the successor's abilities to run the business and how much faith the incumbent has in the successor's intentions, as well as the incumbent's own interests outside the business. Thus it is important not only that the successor have a high desire to take over and a high level of confidence in his or her own ability to take over the business, but also that the present manager be involved in activities outside the enterprise and look forward to pursuing new activity outside the business.

Conflict can arise when the incumbent endangers the long-term vitality or existence of the enterprise by not adequately addressing continuity issues in turning over the business. If the older and younger siblings cannot reach an agreement regarding their roles following a selection of the new successor, the incumbent may not step down or choose to dissolve the enterprise, and the business will not succeed to the next generation. Without a smooth transition, the incumbent may continue to work as long as possible and then end the family business with retirement and/or death.

Additionally, issues of trust in the successor's capabilities and intentions, and what the incumbent will do next, are often the crux of conflict perceptions. Conflict regarding the propensity of an incumbent to step aside provides the opportunity to make expectations explicit regarding the work, and prepare both the incumbent and successor for a satisfying personal life in the family itself. However, if the incumbent perceives that the older and younger siblings will not work effectively together for the good of the business, or if their family relationships will erode, leading to family members no longer speaking to one another, then the incumbent may choose to not have the business succeed.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of FamiliesFamily Business - Mutual Acceptance Of Roles, Agreement To Continue The Business, Propensity Of A Successor To Take Over