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Lambert: Family businesses can be model for more stable form of capitalism

Economic growth will be driven by the private sector in the coming years and the best-run family companies have a big role to play, the CBI's director general told a family business conference yesterday.

Richard Lambert, director general of the UK-based business lobbying organisation, told family business leaders at the Institute for Family Business national forum that governments cannot "cut" their way back to economic stability.

Austerity measures have recently been adopted in many countries. In the UK, the new coalition government has already announced £6 billion worth of cuts for the current year in an attempt to reduce its forecasted £163 billion deficit. 

"I do think that some of the qualities of the successful family business are going to be relevant in the world that we are moving into," said Lambert, who cited long-term views and values, sustainability, an alignment of interest between owners and managers, and invulnerability to hostile takeovers as key qualities.

According to Lambert, the new world is one where trust in private enterprise must be rebuilt following the damaging last few years and one in which a different, more stable form of capitalism must emerge. Family businesses should serve as model for others to follow, said Lambert.

This view is supported by a public survey conducted by YouGov for the IFB, which saw 68% of respondents strongly agree that family-owned businesses play an important part in economic growth and employment. 

However, Lambert warned that families should not get too "dewy-eyed" about the qualities of the family business. "There are negative as well as positive qualities. Families can quarrel, family leaders can be autocratic and family energies can dissipate after a generation or two," he commented.

Nevertheless he said trust in business matters and everyone needed to think about which qualities had brought enduring success to the best family businesses.

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