Family businesses and their role in the revolution

Family businesses are an integral part of the so-called third industrial revolution, according to a new book by a French lawyer on how such companies are crucial to the evolution of the world economy.

Entitled: L’Entreprise familiale, un model pour l’avenir et pour tout (Family Businesses - A Model For The Future And For All), the book attempts to link the thinking of the American economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin with family businesses.

The author Valérie Tandeau de Marsac wrote the book with the help of students from the French business school EDHEC, where she is an associate professor. She also has her own law practice in Paris called VTM Conseil.

“I had always appreciated the long-termism and low indebtedness of family businesses,” de Marsac told Family Capital. “But writing the book I realised something even more interesting about them, which is the idea of ‘familiness’.”

She says familiness is about the real DNA of family businesses and is linked to the social capital of families running businesses in terms of their strong links to local communities and their often philanthropic efforts. “This is exactly why they are well placed in the third industrial revolution,” says de Marsac.

Rifkin’s book The Third Industrial Revolution talks about the reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical to lateral power that will affect businesses and society in general. He also refers to the growing importance of social capital and localism.

“The definition of familiness corresponds exactly with the lateral power idea put forward by Rifkin, which enables the third industrial revolution,” says de Marsac.

She adds that many of the family businesses interviewed for the book reflect this growing move towards lateral power.

“Many of them are the answers to the problems that gave rise to the financial crisis of 2008,” she said.