LGA develops theories and concepts that are widely adopted as best practice in the family enterprise field


Common sense and experience go a long way in helping family enterprises navigate the inevitable challenges and complexity of continuity planning. But without access to the latest research and case studies, leaders are missing critical information to support their decision-making, and advisors are simply recycling old solutions to new conditions.

The LGA team is constantly developing ideas and frameworks to improve our understanding of and support for family enterprise systems. We generate these insights through active research programs and share them enthusiastically with our clients and the field. Our commitment to sharing these findings as widely as possible demonstrates our belief that educated leaders and owners are essential to achieve family enterprise continuity, and that these well-educated families will play a critical role in shaping the modern global economy.

Explore the LGA drivers for
family enterprise continuity

Beyond the Family Foundation

LGA and the NCFP are conducting research into the way families channel their philanthropy.

The ways that complex multi-generational families manage their philanthropy have evolved considerably over the last quarter-century.

Over a decade ago, LGA and the National Center of Family Philanthropy partnered to develop and publish Generations of Giving: Leadership and Continuity in Family Philanthropy, which quickly became one of the field’s bedrock publications. Now, LGA is co-sponsoring a research project with the NCFP to explore how complex business families are using vehicles beyond their family foundations to pursue philanthropic goals — including their personal philanthropy, donor-advised funds, corporate social responsibility programs, impact / mission-aligned investing strategies, and in some cases even their operating businesses.

We are working with a handful of pioneering families in this area with a history of significant philanthropy for two or more generations, with members of at least two generations currently involved in some aspect of philanthropy, and with three or more active philanthropic structures in place.

Many of the families in our network have found the coordination of all these different activities to be a challenge. We are helping to fund this research to learn from the experiences of families like yours so that we can offer guidance to other families and present aggregate findings to the field at large.

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Organizational Resilience: How Enterprising Families Survive and Thrive in the Age of Uncertainty

Family businesses the world over face the expected challenges of competitive markets and the added complexities of family engagement. Many business families, however, operate in especially uncertain environments where politics are unstable, economic policies are volatile, labor supply is vulnerable, and legal systems are capricious.

With a seed grant from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, we are currently conducting research into corporate strategy and family enterprise under extreme adversity, and are hoping to discover fresh insight into how organizational systems respond to environmental risk. We have assembled a database of over 150 distinguished family companies globally who operate in these kinds of environments and are now at the stage of conducting interviews to deepen our understanding of the familial, governance, strategic and managerial practices that account for their success and resiliency.

Talk to Devin about this project

Family Enterprise Sustainability

Meeting the needs of the present while addressing the challenges and opportunities of the future.

On one hand, we are slowly moving toward a more sustainable global economic system – renewable energy costs are declining and deployment is scaling up, millennials are breaking the trade-off between profit and purpose and consumers and investors are demanding that businesses track, report, and address environmental, social, and governance activities). At the same time, technology, competition, and public policy are driving corporate leaders to focus on ever shorter-planning cycles.  Modern financial markets also make long-term commitments difficult: the average holding time for US equities has dropped from eight years in 1960 to eight months in 2016.

Closely-held family-controlled companies have the economic and emotional incentives to effectively manage this dilemma and to focus on organizational resilience and longevity. Research suggests that family firms tend to be more socially and environmentally responsible, exhibit greater concern about preserving their reputation for the long-term, and are more likely to adopt and integrate sustainability in their mission, strategy, and thinking. But how do the most successful and complex families do it? What wealth management approaches allow family businesses to capitalize on opportunities for sustainability without compromising the ability of future generations (often increasingly numerous) to meet their own needs?  What are the questions these families must ask themselves as they look for inter-generational and inter-branch alignment? How does a focus on sustainability affect governance, organizational design, finance, and business strategy, and does it work differently under family control?

We are working actively with our client families and partners to help address these critical questions and share experiences and actionable insights to drive the global shift towards a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable future.

Talk to Devin about this project

Global Perspectives on Generational Transition

For entrepreneurial families, successful generational transition determines the very survival of the company and its successful continuity across generations. To explore how families attract and develop their future talent, LGA Partner Neus Feliu teamed up with researchers from five countries and their leading academic institutions: ESE Business School at Universidad de los Andes (Chile); ESADE Business School (Spain); Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (United States); Institute for Enterprising Families Tecnológico de Monterrey (México) and the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (China). Together, they launched a global study to understand the perceptions and attitudes of different generations around key issues that impact family enterprise continuity. This research has been funded by the Swiss private bank Julius Bäer.

This study sheds light on how the entry of new generations affects family enterprises globally. It explores the perceptions, attitudes, and aspirations towards the family business and other joint family activities across different generations, comparing age groups and establishing whether there are differences between them. The study updates our understanding of:

  • The issues to which different generations give importance in their life
  • The social matters they consider relevant
  • Their perceptions about the main environmental challenges for their family firms
  • Their intentions and aspirations in relation to the family enterprise

In addition to evaluating generational differences, the research also explored differences across countries, genders, and those with and without children.

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Research on the Role of Women Owners

Encouraging the active participation of women enhances the continuity of a family enterprise both by expanding the pool of managerial and governing talent available to the business and by fostering inclusion, commitment, and unity among the family. However, many women experience unique challenges when becoming owners based on historical gender norms, and their path into ownership influences both the roles available and how they execute on them.

Building on the literature and research on inclusion, diversity, identity, and gender norms, and on the insights gathered from interviews with women leaders and decades of advisory work with enterprising families, we are currently conducting qualitative research into the issues faced by daughters who inherit shares in their family’s enterprise and the factors influencing how they choose to exercise this ownership. Our aim is to shed light on daughters’ unique contributions, highlight the common ownership-related dilemmas they face, and provide recommendations for addressing these structural challenges.

Talk to Wendy about this project