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German next-gens won’t sell family business, instead will focus on growth

More than half of German next-gens want to take over their family business, bring in outside managers and focus on international expansion, while only 4% would consider selling the family firm.
German next-gens won’t sell family business, instead will focus on growth

More than half of German next-gens want to take over their family business, bring in outside managers and focus on international expansion, while only 4% would consider selling the family firm.

That’s according to a study by Jana Hauck and Reinhard Prugl, researchers at the Institute for Innovation and Family Entrepreneurship at Zeppelin University in Germany. They told CampdenFB that the country’s next-gens differ from their predecessors when it comes to management, with Huack describing them as “team-oriented”.

“Instead of a patriarchal leadership style, the majority of [next-gens] are willing to manage the family business together with others family members or with non-family managers,” she said.

Their comments follow the release of the study on next-gens in German family firms by Zeppelin University, in collaboration with business magazine Impulse and the German Foundation for Family Businesses.

It found that 60% of next-gens hoped to succeed their parents. Only 13% wanted to follow a different career path, while the remaining 25% were undecided, according to the research on more than 230 next-generation members in Germany.

Around 80% of respondents, all aged between 16 and 35, also wanted to start their own business, the study said.

“The next generation will strongly focus on innovation and growth,” Prugl said, adding they will be particularly interested in international expansion. Next-gens who take the helm of their family businesses would “bring a lot of international experience and strong networks to the table”, he said.

Aside from innovation and growth, which were chosen as the top priorities by 69% of respondents, one-third of next-gens said they would also focus on reducing the company’s costs. Only four in 100 said they might sell the firm.

The study also found that 57% of the country’s next-gens thought family and business could coexist successfully, while a third reckoned they tended to clash.

In particular, 47% of respondents thought the pressure of working in a family business could negatively affect relationships among members. When comparing the interests of the family and that of the business, the majority of respondents said they would put the firm first. 

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