Over 70% of today’s family business leaders admit to having no succession plan

  • The study, conducted by the STEP Project Global Consortium, enjoys the collaboration of over 40 universities from different parts of the world and the participation of over 1,800 family businesses from 33 countries from 5 geographical regions
  • The Catalan Association of Family Businesses (ASCEF) sponsors 5 University Chairs in Family Business in Catalonia

More than 70% of the present leaders of family businesses admit to having no succession plan. The remainder believe that a formal succession plan increases the possibility of the manager reflecting on their plans for the future. Spanish family businesses are on a par internationally with regard to the existence of succession plans (28% in Spain, as in Europe and Latin America, compared to 30% globally).

Similarly, the study shows that Spanish family businesses address these processes with a strong leaning towards the structuring of family governance. This can lead to guidance and agreement on succession processes and to encourage family participation and involvement in future stages of the business project. However, these businesses are less well-equipped with regard to the structures and mechanisms of corporate governance (boards of directors, the existence of external directors etc.), which are also key to channelling the transition in the management.

These are some of the conclusions from the study on the way in which family businesses relate to succession, with special attention to different generational perspectives. It was conducted by researchers from the Chair in Family Business of the University of Valencia, the Chair in Family Business and Business Creation from the Abat Oliba CEU University and the University of Extremadura, which form part of the STEP Project Global Consortium (Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices). These research groups collaborate closely with family business associations in their areas of reference: AVE (Valencian Business Association), ASCEF (Catalan Association of Family Businesses) and AEEF (Extremaduran Association of Family Businesses).

The Catalan Association of Family Business (ASCEF) sponsors 5 Chairs in Family Business in Catalonia at the Universities of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, Abat Oliba CEU and the International University of Catalonia. These form part of a network of Chairs in Family Business throughout the country.

The Spanish family businesses participating in the study belong mainly to the service sector (69%), 15% of them conduct their activity in the primary sector and 16% in the secondary sector and are slightly larger than the national averages. Similarly, the leaders of the participating family businesses have an average age of 45 and the majority belong business families that are second or more generation.

The results of the study indicate that 28% of Spanish family businesses have a succession plan. Viewed from another angle, over 70% of current family business leaders admit to not having one. These figures are very similar in Europe and Latin America and representative of the study’s entire global sample (figure 13).

Figura 13

Having a succession plan in place suggests that family business leaders have become aware of the importance of preparing in advance for the succession process and that this process can be undertaken through reasoned criteria and in a professional manner.

The full report can be downloaded in the Knowledge section of the ASCEF website.