Values in Family-Owned Business

Manila Bulletin, September 6, 2009 | Go to article overview

Values in Family-Owned Business


Among the Philippine corporations that have been rated high in corporate governance, there is a large number of family-owned businesses like Ayala Corporation, Banco de Oro, Megaworld, ICTSI, Security Bank Corporation, Alaska Milk Corporation, and Splash. This should not come as a surprise, considering the findings of specialists on family-owned businesses all over the world. Values and virtues are often best cultivated within family businesses. This is the thesis of a valuable book edited by Joseph Tapies and John L. Ward, two of the world's leading scholars of family businesses. The title of the book is Family Values and Value Creation: The Fostering of Enduring Values Within Family-Owned Businesses published by Palgrave Macmillan. Professor Tapies holds the Chair of Family-Owned Business at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain while Professor John L. Ward is Clinical Professor of Family Enterprises at Kellog School of Management in NorthwesternUniversity in the US.In the Prologue to the book, IESE Dean Jordi Canals remarks that the long-term vision of the family-owned company is in stark contrast with the short-term pressures that rule other kinds of businesses. The short-term vision of many publicly owned enterprises could not be better demonstrated than by the current global economic crisis that has been precipitated mainly by companies looking for a quick buck, whose executives completely ignored the long-term impact of their actions on the sustainability of their respective businesses. As John Ward explains in the book's introduction, family-owned businesses are generally characterized by a sound value system, whether implicit or explicit, which impacts all of its activities, its strategy and way of doing things. During these days when there is a great deal of lamentation about the lack of values in the corporate world, family-owned businesses are shaping up to be the role models to watch.Business professors in the Philippines should write more cases on family enterprises to highlight the positive values that are passed from one generation to another in family businesses. This may be easier said than done because the owners of family businesses tend to guard their privacy and are reluctant to share information. Despite this limitation, clear evidence has emerged from the studies included in the book that family-owned businesses do play an important role in developed economies. For this reason, the authors call on family-owned enterprises to open up more and face up to the challenges of today's globalized business environment. The book makes clear, however, that each family-owned business is one of a kind. Researchers on the topic are trying to discover a typology that can be used to classify and describe the many different kinds of family businesses.There are those who propose a classification according to the level of involvement of family members. This can get pretty complex, with more than 70 categories. John A. Davies of the Harvard Business School suggests eight categories encompassing every possible family system. Another key aspect to take into account is the role of the family members involved in the business, whom IESE Professor Joseph Tapies describes as the "heart of the business. …

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