What is the Impact of Family Businesses on the US Economy?

What is the Impact of Family Businesses on the US Economy?
Torsten Pieper and Daniel Van Der Vliet; image courtesy of the subjects
The Family Business Voice
The Family Business Voice
What is the Impact of Family Businesses on the US Economy?
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On this episode of The Family Business Voice, Daniel G Van Der Vliet and Torsten M Pieper talk with Ramia about updating Astrachan and Shankar’s seminal 2003 research paper “Family Businesses’ Contribution to the U.S. Economy: A Closer Look,” and what their updated research says about the field of family business education.

Daniel G Van Der Vliet is the John and Dyan Smith Executive Director of Family Business at Cornell University. Over the last 25 years, Daniel has worked with family business owners and next-gen successors, helping them connect with each other over the issues that matter most — those with the potential to impact continuity.

Torsten M Pieper is an Associate Professor at UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business and the President of the International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA), the largest network association of family business researchers in the world. Torsten’s and his team’s work allows for an unprecedented overview of the state of family businesses in 2021 and a good indication of where they might go next. 

  •  The research team was surprised to find that there are roughly 10 million more active family businesses now than there were in 2003 — encouraging news in the face of stereotyping that sees the family business model as outdated and losing momentum.
  •  Family businesses have, traditionally, been quite hard to study, with private ownership and staggering diversity in size and industry making data harder to come by than it is for large public companies. Getting the facts together is no less important, however. Family business knowledge translates to policies and practices that can help family businesses succeed.
  •  There is a huge gap between how people think of and idolise entrepreneurship (and how it’s generally taught) — the extraordinarily successful entrepreneur who builds a million-dollar company from nothing and then sells it for profit — and entrepreneurship in practice — families with a more long-term perspective and modest, compounding gains.

A copy of the full research report, sponsored by Family Enterprise USA, and co-authored by Torsten Pieper, Franz Kellermanns, and Joe Astrachan, can be found here.

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