The History of Family Business, 1850-2000 (New Studies in by Andrea Colli

By Andrea Colli

This old and comparative review of relations company examines the several relationships inside relatives companies and between kin agencies, in addition to diversified political and institutional contexts. Andrea Colli compares the functionality of family members companies with that of different fiscal businesses, and appears at how those organizations have contributed to the evolution of latest business capitalism. He additionally analyzes the explanations for either the decline and patience of kinfolk companies.

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Their work has provided a considerable amount of single-case research – providing company histories focusing both on succession and on leadership transmission strategies. It has also analysed the evolution of the institutional environment that shaped the different strategies and behaviour of the economic actors Family business: nature and structure 25 involved. As a consequence, the new institutionalism in its ‘macro’ perspective provides useful analytical tools. The complex system of formal and informal rules in which decisions are undertaken is relevant, while history is vital in explaining its evolution (North 1990).

In his Culture’s Consequences, Geert Hofstede defines culture ‘as the interactive aggregate of common characteristics that influence a human group’s response to its environment’ (Hofstede 1980: 25). It is clear that attitudes toward business and ‘economic rationality’ must be set into this general framework. Take for instance the European perspective on enterprise in comparison with the American one. In the latter case the managerialisation process and growth imperatives have been facilitated, to some extent, by an entrepreneurial philosophy that considers the enterprise as a commodity, so that it can be sold or bought or placed on the market.

Unity of ownership and control was also a striking characteristic among the financial institutions of the City of London. The popularity of family-oriented enterprise in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain was a product of a complex interaction of legal, economic, and cultural forces. With the spectre of bankruptcy ever present, a combination of the common-law partnership and unlimited liability meant that many businessmen preferred to be associated with their family and community-based connections rather than with outsiders.

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