Applied Research Survey

The 2086 Society is seeking input on a set of applied research topics that will be used for a broad-based request for proposals for an annual series of research efforts designed to promote and advance applied research in the family enterprise field.
 
Please review the seven topics under consideration and cast your votes on which topics you think would further advance applied research in the field. All responses are due by February 14, after which the members of the 2086 Society will select final topics and create a request for proposals (RFPs) that will be widely distributed. The RFP will encourage the collaboration of multiple disciplines in the responses.
 
It is our expectation that the researchers will be chosen in the spring of 2019 and that preliminary reports will be made as part of the Miami conference, October 23-25. We think this is an exciting undertaking and appreciate your taking the time to give us your opinion before we proceed to the next step.

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* 1. Human longevity
Life expectancy globally has increased over the last 70 years. Thinking in generations (25 years), what has been the impact on the family enterprise of family members living longer?  For example, how does increased human longevity impact theories and practice around succession, the “next generation,” leading with long-tenured employees, adapting strategy?

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* 2. Business longevity
When the field began, focus was given to families continuing together in business beyond their second, into their third generation. Today we know of many families in business that last much longer. The accepted view is that families build their family wealth through the sustainability of their family collective business interests. Yet the family wealth literature focuses on a 100-year perspective. What has been the impact of evolving advisor counsel and business family attitudes toward business longevity?  What are factors affecting longevity, including, for example, a broadening of the business to “enterprise” thinking, competitive issues, other?  What evidence can you offer for increased longevity across multiple generations?

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* 3. Models of leadership
For a long time, models of leadership pointed to the single leader at the top. Today, in practice, we hear of more occasions of co-leadership, e.g., co-president, co-CEO, in family firms. New thinking is needed to illuminate the conditions/circumstances under which co-leadership can be effective/successful today. What 3-5 factors contribute to the successful introduction of co-leaders; what affects their effective collaboration, and what derails this model?

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* 4. Beyond Bowen Theory
In the early development of the family business field, Bowen’s Family Systems Theory sat at the center of the thinking and shaping of help for families in business. Today, with decades of experience, we are interested in what specific concepts from family systems theory are most helpful in practice? How are they useful? What other major concepts from the fields of psychology or psychodynamics, neuroscience, etc. are helpful to family enterprise sustainability?

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* 5. The value of outside boards
Literature has, for years, recommended the value of family firms creating, using, evaluating a board (both advisory and fiduciary), and many firms have done so in evolving their systems of governance. In looking across firms, what has motivated their decisions to create such boards? What factors account for family enterprise shifting from an advisory to a fiduciary governance structure? From practice, when is a board of advisors advisable vs. a fiduciary board? What advice do firm leaders offer to improve the effectiveness of their boards, both advisory and fiduciary? What advice do members of these governing structures offer (in particular, on boards in place for at least a decade) to others, that could improve their effectiveness (could include composition, size, the evolution from advisory to fiduciary, etc.)?

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* 6. Future of work
As the nature of work has evolved, including the continuing introduction and diffusion of technology, the role of “place” or location is becoming increasingly irrelevant for both employees and customers. Similarly, the norms about adult development that include moving from college to work to retirement, etc., are changing, as well as the evolution from firm to enterprise and the business and family’s conceptions of their collective economics. What ideas (theoretical and/or from practice) about the future of work are particularly relevant for the family enterprise, why are they relevant, and what might firms do to attract and retain their family and other talent to sustain their enterprise given conceptions of the future of work?

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* 7. The impact of non-family professionals
As family enterprises have grown and evolved, their willingness and skill to include non-family professionals, i.e., differentiating ownership from management, what specifically have family shareholders done to attend to their roles as owners, both their involvement and oversight, e.g., structurally, developmentally?

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