Planning Strategies for Generational Succession in Flemish Third-Generation Family-Owned Businesses

Anne-Marie E. De Scheemaecker DBA, Walden University

Abstract

Survival over generations is critical for family-owned businesses (FOBs). Only 3% of family firms survive the 3rd generation, and a succession strategy is the most challenging decision for family business leaders to make. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore nonfinancial succession planning strategies that 3rd-generation FOB leaders in Flanders, Belgium, apply for the transition of ownership and leadership to the 4th generation. The conceptual framework for this study was the socioemotional wealth paradigm. Data were collected using semistructured interviews, archival document reviews, company internal and public documents, and press releases. Yin’s 5-step data analysis was applied to identify themes and patterns. Analysis of the data revealed that, among these 3rd-generation FOBs, the socioemotional aspect of generational succession planning required strategies that simultaneously focused on successor suitability and well-being, consensus of the family, mode of transition, leadership and governance, and survival of the family firm. These findings may provide other, similar FOB leaders with insights into the dynamics of a successful transition of the 3rd-generation family firm to the next generation. Findings may be used to increase FOB survival rates, provide new job opportunities, contribute to community growth, and enhance the well-being of stakeholders. Successful family firms may engage in philanthropic activities as a way of transmitting legacies between generations.