The Key Issues that Can Help Family Businesses Gain Control of Sibling Rivalries

The Key Issues that Can Help Family Businesses Northeastern University
Gain Control of Sibling Rivalries

Family Business Quarterly
by Thomas Davidow and Richard Narva

Old soldiers, General Douglas MacArthur once remarked, “don’t die, they just fade away.”

Not so sibling rivalries. They have been around since the beginning of mankind–related most memorably in the biblical narratives of Cain and Abel and that of Joseph, his brothers, and the coat of many colors. And they can create nearly as much havoc in today’s family businesses as they did in the biblical tales. Some family businesses have been literally torn apart by the intensity of feelings created when one sibling feels neglected or rejected,

One Answer to a Family Business Owner’s Wish to Treat His Children Equally

One Answer to a Family Business Owner’s
Wish to Treat His Children Equally
Northeastern University

Family Business Quarterly
by Joseph F. Blum

How does a parent who owns a successful family business treat all his children “equally” when only some are working in the business?

In our age of career and family mobility, this question represents an increasingly common dilemma facing owners of family companies as they try to do estate planning. It raises a host of financial and emotional issues for both the older and younger generation. For example, how can children who aren’t working in the family business be granted equal portions of an estate that consists primarily of the business without alienating the children who are working in the business?

Absent resolution, these and other such questions can lead to feelings of resentment in both generations. Complete equality in such situations, as in much of life, is nearly impossible to achieve. But increasingly, those of us who work with family business estate matters are developing approaches that create feelings of equality so that everyone involved feels satisfied with the outcome. More…