In the United States alone, 90% of corporations are family businesses, small ideas that were born in the bosom of the family nucleus and took shape until they reached, for example, a place in the prestigious Fortune 500 ranking.

For Latin America, it is estimated that this percentage is quite similar; in fact, the trend is the same worldwide. However, studies reveal that around 70% of these companies do not make it through the transition to the second generation of the family, while only 4% survive the change to the fourth generation.

Abrupt leadership transitions between parents and children, power disputes or simply a lack of interest of the next generation in keeping the business afloat are part of the threats that lead to these statistics.

This generational change, however, is as necessary as it is inevitable, but it is here where legality, cordiality and commitment become vital to avoid or at least mitigate such threatening failure rates.

Keys to surviving change
In addition to the risks and threats that every company faces, there are seven keys that mark the fate of most family-owned corporations:
1. The capacity of the next generation
2. The senior generation maintaining control
3. Conflicts between siblings
4. Disinterested and dispersed cousins
5. Economic freedom
6. Limited capital
7. Business challenges


"A family business, in managerial matters, should be managed practically the same as a non-family business, in almost everything. The key to the matter is how we are going to manage the family-company relationship."


Excerpt from the webinar "The sustainability of a family business", given by Ph.D. Esteban R. Brenes, Academic Director of the Family Business program, INCAE Business School.