Keeping it in the family: family, priorities and succession in Scottish landed estates
di Belmonte, S.
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di Belmonte, S., Seaman, C. & Bent, R. (2016) Keeping it in the family: family, priorities and succession in Scottish landed estates, Journal of Family Business Management, 6 (3), pp. 350-362.
Purpose: This study considers multi-generational landed estates in Scotland from a family business perspective. The strategic vision for the business is considered here in terms of the family definition of success, drawing upon aspects of cultural identity, legal and fiscal systems and stewardship theory. Design/methodology/approach: A social-constructivist epistemology framed this study, which considered perceptions of family business strategy, culture and family-defined visions of success. Semi-structured interview techniques were utilized to collect primarily qualitative date. Findings: Results indicate that the families shared a very cohesive definition of what constituted the family business and were very aware of the importance of long-term planning in the succession process. The cultural and legal dimension of primogeniture played a defining role in the choice of successors, developed from the belief that the successor is the steward of the family property rather than the 'owner' in any personal sense. Key priorities for the family included the training of the heir and the limiting of potential taxation liabilities juxtaposed with the desire to retain family discretion in decision making. Practical implications: By extending current research to businesses that have been successfully transferred between six or more generations this study offers a unique insight into the requirements for effective succession. This research also offers an insight into the strategic management of a group of 'family businesses' where the economic and legislative environment have required families to plan, where smaller family businesses are often able to defer. Originality/value: Multi-generational estates represent some of the oldest family businesses in Scotland, offering a unique sample group of businesses which have survived through six or more generations. The clarity of strategic vision and the perceived importance of long-term planning offer an insight into the reasons for business longevity.