Why Can’t a Family Business Be More Like a Non-Family Business? Modes of Professionalization in Family Firms

Alex Stewart, Marquette University
Michael A. Hitt, Texas A & M University - College Station

Author version. Family Business Review, Vol. 25 No. 1 (2011). DOI: 10.1177/0894486511421665


We survey arguments that family firms should behave more like non-family firms and “professionalize”. Despite the apparent advantages of this transition, many family firms fail to do so or do so only partially. We reflect on why this might be so, and the range of possible modes of professionalization. We derive six ideal types: (1) minimally professional family firms; (2) wealth dispensing, private family firms; (3) entrepreneurially operated family firms; (4) entrepreneurial family business groups; (5) pseudo-professional, public family firms; and (6) hybrid professional family firms. We conclude with suggestions for further research that is attentive to such variation.

Keywords: Professionalization; family firms; performance; entrepreneurship; hybrid organizations