The importance of the family system in family business

Ramona K. Zachary (Baruch College – The City University of New York, New York, New York, USA)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Publication date: 22 April 2011



Most researchers overlook the family system in the pursuit of family business studies and research. They mistakenly have assumed that the study of only the family business is sufficient to understand the influence and effect of the family itself. The importance the family system is documented as well as the evolution of family business as a field of study and various family business definitions. Conceptualizations of the family business are critiqued and the Sustainable Family Business Theory (SFBT) is presented relative to its board and detailed emphasis on the family system. This paper aims to address these issues.


This article is a review of previous family business research including specific conceptual models developed in the literature, particularly relevant to the inclusion of the family system.


Few researchers examine the family system in detail but those that do are reviewed and discussed.

Research limitations/implications

Research, teaching and practice must be conducted with the recognition of the family system relative to the family business.

Social implications

Recognizing the family system for its unique social contributions will have impact on future research, teaching, and practice.


This review of previous research offers researchers a broader and comprehensive view of the family business, which is inclusive of the family system, as well as the business system and their respective interactions. Researchers, educators, and practitioners will benefit from this paper.



Zachary, R. (2011), "The importance of the family system in family business", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 26-36.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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