The purpose of this paper is to find throughout history examples of wealth management of a family or business families that can be assimilated into the current concept of family offices (FOs). In such examples, the study identifies characteristics associated with the different dimensions of the concept of socioemotional wealth (SEW).
Drawing on the socioemotional perspective, this paper relates significant examples of FOs based on historical stages (ancient history, the middle ages, modern history, the contemporary period and the actual world). Each case is discussed with an effort to identify the dimensions of the SEW that fit and help in understanding the organization studied.
Mainly, FOs allow the management of the family legacy, philanthropy, promotion of entrepreneurship and family wealth preservation for future generations. Autonomy in decision-making, privacy and confidentiality and the achievement of more intangible goals make the FO preferable to other institutions. Through the study of historical cases, the FO constitutes a structure with objectives and activities that have remained consistent from Rome to the present, regardless of historical, political or social context. The results also identify four out of five FIBER dimensions of SEW.
In addition to contributing to the scarce literature on FOs, this paper uses various examples of historical periods to better understand its origin, evolution and current state. A selection of examples at different times allows us to verify that FOs undergo a series of changes throughout history but maintain their characteristics regardless of the historical context. This paper is the first to explore the origin and development of the FO as organization. Building on the findings, the authors present a conceptual SEW framework to deepen in the knowledge of FO. This framework could help researchers and practitioners in future researches providing a conceptual link that demonstrates the components of the SEW perspective best fit the objectives pursued by business families when establishing a family office.
Rivo-López, E., Villanueva-Villar, M., Suárez-Blázquez, G. and Reyes-Santías, F. (2020), "How does a business family manage its wealth? A family office perspective", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFBM-03-2020-0021Download as .RIS
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