Can embracing conflict spur positive change?

How the world's largest family businesses resolve disagreement

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Disputes and friction are inevitable in family business, but can actually be quite healthy when managed well. The world's largest family businesses are certainly no strangers to dealing with conflict.

In fact, in our survey Can embracing conflict spur positive change? nearly half report some level of dysfunctional conflict. It’s how they deal with that conflict that makes the difference between success and failure and family happiness and distress.

EY - Percentage of companies reporting the existence of dysfunctional family conflict

Reducing unhealthy conflict has benefits for family businesses beyond a tranquil workplace. It’s also a positive for long-term family health and business prosperity. As we reported in In harmony: family business cohesion and profitability, our research has shown that family cohesion leads to greater business return on equity (ROE), and our research suggests that the same mechanisms that lead to cohesion also reduce family conflict.

In this report*, we explore the effects of dysfunctional conflict and explain how to make conflict benefit business and family, rather than disrupt either. We pinpoint the behaviors and traits that family businesses use to help reduce unhealthy conflict, and we suggest actions that business owners and families can take to help manage disputes more effectively, enhance communication and family cohesion and, in the process, help the business and the family thrive.

Read the full report Can embracing conflict spur positive change?

*About our survey
This report is based on survey results gathered from 525 of the world’s largest family businesses. The responses represent 25 of the largest family businesses in each of 21 top global markets — Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US. Valid Research, an independent research institute in Germany, used a questionnaire and conducted phone interviews in the specific country language with senior ranking family business leaders. Based on the number of companies contacted to achieve our desired sample size, we achieved a 42% response rate.