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When successor becomes the leader of international family business? – a case study from Poland


Leadership succession is a significant challenge for all family businesses. Despite this many family businesses do not have clear plans nor systematic processes for implementation trans-generational change (Fang et al, 2015). Family business owners beliefs that succession is natural process and successors became leaders naturally. If that was it, then more than 30% would survive the first generation, around 15% would survive to the third generation, and more than 3% would survive to the fourth generation (Vera and Dean, 2005). Although much research has been dedicated to family business succession and preparing successors there is still no in depth research showing the path needed to cross from successor to a true leader in family firm. The idea that a family business succession can have an impact on the financial structure and performance of a firm should be no surprise given that a business transfer is one of the most important and critical events in the life cycle of any family firm. Moreover, successions will gradually gain more importance in the next coming years because of the retirement of a substantial amount of business leaders. It is therefore important to study business transfers, as doing so can lead to more insights into best practices regarding how to carry out a succession and on the way in which the business is expected to change because of the transition event. Martin and Lumpkin (2004) find that in successive generations entrepreneurial orientation tends to diminish and give way to family orientation, as stability and inheritance concerns become the business's principal drivers. Central in the succession process is that the management of the family business end up in the hands of a competent and well-motivated successor. But there is still not clear what are what does it mean for successor and family business. We know that succession process has the potential to disrupt and even to destroy successful businesses, irrespective of their financial or market power (Bozer, Levin, Santora, 2017) but in some cases a succession, particularly when an successor is involved, can lead a family business to new markets, new ways of acting and thinking (Ward, 1987; Ibrahim et al. , 2001; Menendez-Requejo, 2005; Graves and Thomas, 2008). Assuming the topic of succession is one of the most critical challenges in the family business literature, this paper attempts to address the factors that act as driving forces for the successor to become a leader of international family businesses.


family firms, succession leadership



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