What do we Know About Succession in Family Businesses?

Mapping Current Knowledge and Unexplored Territory

Authored by: Carolin Decker , Katharina Heinrichs , Peter Jaskiewicz , Sabine B. Rau

The Routledge Companion to Family Business

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138919112
eBook ISBN: 9781315688053
Adobe ISBN: 9781317419990


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Succession, which includes the set of “actions, events, and organizational mechanisms by which leadership at the top of the firm, and often ownership, are transferred” (Le Breton-Miller, Miller, and Steier 2004, 305), is one of the most important issues in the field of family business (Chua, Chrisman, and Sharma 2003). A first literature review was conducted by Handler (1994), who identified five streams of research. Since then, scholars have generated a vast body of literature on succession in family businesses. Considering the sheer number of publications, it would seem that succession is over-published. A closer look at the results, however, indicates that the literature on succession remains non-cumulative and disjointed (Chittoor and Das 2007; Long and Chrisman 2007, 2013). To lay the groundwork for theory development, we provide a systematic analysis of peer-reviewed studies that have been published since Handler’s (1994) seminal literature review.

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