From generation to generation

a qualitative study of family businesses management


  • Daniela Gasperin 1Member of Group of Studies and Research on Futures, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo
  • Paula Patrícia Ganzer Guest professor of extension courses at the University of de Caxias do Sul
  • Roberta Rodrigues Faoro Professor at the University of de Caxias do Sul
  • Amanda Cicconeto Santinon Graduate of University of de Caxias do Sul



Family succession, Succession process, Family businesses


Individuals from the same family manage the family business, and the decision-making process is in full responsibility of the company's founder, owner, or successor. This research analyzed seven owners of small family businesses in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The study applied the qualitative approach with an exploratory character to answer the following question: How does management occur in the succession process in family businesses? The qualitative data was analyzed by importing the content transcribed from the interviews into NVivo 11 Pro software. Next, we applied Bardin's content analysis. From the analysis, four categories were identified, namely: i) family succession process; ii) professionalization; iii) family conflicts and iv) decision-making. Concerning the succession process, there was inadequate planning by the owners and a lack of professionals to assist in knowledge. As for professionalization, the interviewees invest in the education of their successors, creating the opportunity for their children to prepare through undergraduate courses and specializations. Regarding family conflicts, particular interests were perceived among family, and situations of resistance to change from the interviewees, in accepting that the successors present new ideas, business or technology opportunities that can solve some deficiency of the company. Unbalanced emotions affect decision-making. As a result, there is the need to organize succession planning in a gradual and planned way to exchange power so that both successor and family are prepared for this transition.


Aronoff C.E.; McClure S.L.; Ward J.L. Family Business Succession: The Final Test of Greatness. Family Business Publication. 2nd Edition. 2017. 118 p.

Bardin, Laurence. Content analysis. Publishing Company: Editions 70, 2016. 279 p.

Baron, J.; Lachenauer, R. Harvard Business Review Family Business Handbook: How to Build and Sustain a Successful. Publishing Company: Harvard Business Review Press, 2021. 320 p.

Bernardi, L. A. Entrepreneurship and behavioral pitfalls: casualty, emotions and complexity. Publishing Company: Atlas, 2015. 254 p.

Bornholdt, Werner. Governance in the Family Business: implementation and practice. Publishing Company: Bookman, 2019. 240 p.

Costa, A.D.; Zen, A.C. and Spindler, E.d.S. Family succession, professionalization and internationalization: a study of Brazilian family businesses. Journal of Family Business Management, 1 (2): 410-422. 2021.

DC. Trade Diary.

Engel, J. M. The Ten Commandments of Family Business Succession: Why 70% of Family Business Succession fail. Publishing Company: The Ten Commandments for Business, 2019. 46 p.

Gersick, K. E. et al. From Generation to Generation: family business life cycles. Publishing Company: Business Editora Ltda, 2017. 320 p.

Hiebl, M. R.; Mayrleitner, B. Professionalization of management accounting in family firms: The impact of family members. Review of Managerial Science, 13 (5): 1037-1068, 2019.

IBGE. Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

JC. Trade Journal.

Kelly LeCouvie; Jennifer M. Pendergast. Family Business Succession: Your Roadmap to Continuity. Publishing Company: A Family Business Publication. 14th Editions, 2017. 213 p.

Korine H. Succession for Change: Strategic transitions in family and founder-led businesses. Publishing Company: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 121 p.

Madison, K.; Daspit, J. J.; Turner, K.; Kellermanns, F. W. Family firm human resource practices: Investigating the effects of professionalization and bifurcation bias on performance. Journal of Business Research, 84: 327-336, 2018.

PWC. Price House Coppers Brazil.

Robbins, S. P.; Judge, T.A. Organizational behavior. 13th Edition. Publishing Company: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2020. 768 p.

Tondo, C. Developing the family business and the business family. Publishing Company: Sulina. 3nd Edition, 2018. 183 p.

Trevinyo-Rodriguez, R.N.; Gallo, M. A. The Power of Inclusion in Family Business. Publishing Company: Emerald Group Pub Ltd, 2022. 231 p.