The resilience of business families in times of crisis. Haniel, Stumm and the «double» structural change.
In order to promote the longevity of their family firm, business families must be able to cope successfully with external and internal stressors. Their resilience in times of crisis derives from a combination of organizational, individual and family factors. Based on these assumptions, the article examines the way in which two German business families, Haniel and Stumm, have dealt with the «double» structural change that they faced between the 1950s and 70s. The Haniel family succeeded in recognizing the necessary separation from their coal and steel heritage at an early stage. Moreover their leading representatives were able to adapt the family policy to the grown and recently reunited shareholder community. In contrast, the Stumm family lacked ideas for a sustainable renewal of its crisis-prone family business structure. In addition and paradoxically, their spokesman did not find a voice in his vain attempts to fight against the intra-family estrangement that weakened the «belief system» of the family. These contrasting examples show that the resilience of business families must be seen as a historically shaped resource that is heavily influenced by non-economic psychological abilities and accomplishments.
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