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Consulting to Family Businesses: Contracting, Assessment, and Implementation

ISBN: 978-0-7879-6249-4
288 pages
September 2002, Pfeiffer
Consulting to Family Businesses: Contracting, Assessment, and Implementation (078796249X) cover image


Jane Hilburt-Davis and W. Gibb Dyer-- two of the country's foremost experts in the field of family business-- offer in one comprehensive volume a systematic approach for developing the skills and competencies you need to consult with these unique systems. This practical, hands-on resource shows you how to manage each stage of the consulting process-- from the first contact to the last-- and reveals how to plan strategically and deal with the complex relationship issues that are commonplace in family businesses.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables, and Exhibits.



Part 1: The Family Business System.

1. Why Family Business Consulting?

What Is a Family Business?

Family Firm Systems.

Family Business Consulting.

The Development of the Field.

2. Characteristics of "Healthy" Family Businesses.

Healthy Family Businesses.

Unhealthy Family Enterprises.

Strengths and Weaknesses.

Part 2: Consulting to Family Businesses.

3. Contracting and Assessment.

The Consulting Process.

First Contact.

Chemistry Meeting.

Proposal/Engagement Letter/Contract.

Assessment and Diagnosis.

Are We There Yet?

4. Feedback and Planning.

Feedback and Action Planning.

Creating New Solutions.

Planning Ahead: After the Feedback Session.

Additional Tips for a Feedback Meeting.

Dealing with Conflicts.

5. Intervening in Family Firms.

Intervening in Family Firms.

Implementation Phase of the Action Research Model.

The Intervention Grid.


Types of Interventions.

Family Dynamics Issues.

Guidelines for Interventions.

6. Helping Family Firms Make Developmental Transitions.

Developmental Stages and Tasks.

Transitional DynamicsAssessing the Client s Abilities to Work Through Developmental Stages.

Guidelines for Consultants.

Implications for Practice.

Part 3: The Family Business Consultant.

7. Skills and Ethics of the Family Business Consultant.


Knowledge and Skills Required.

Multidisciplinary Teams.


Ethical Issues.

8. Special Situations and Challenges.




Gender Issues.

Nonfamily Managers.

Family Office/Family Foundations.


9. The Rewards and Challenges of Consulting to Family Businesses.



About the Series.

Statement of the Board.

Afterword to the Series.

About the Editors.

About the Authors.

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Author Information

Jane Hilburt-Davis is a founding principal of Key Resources, a consulting group firm that specialized in working with family and closely-held businesses. Recognized as a leader in the field of family businesses, she also co-founded the Cambridge Center for Creative Enterprise, an award-winning training and research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

W. Gibb Dyer is the O. Leslie Stone Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. Dyer is a recognized authority on family business and entrepreneurship. He has been featured in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, Inc., The New York Times, and Nation's Business.
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"…the book offers a sophisticated framework matched with ample resources." (Consulting to Management, Vol 15, no. 2; 6/1/2004)

"The book is chock-full of thoughtful, practical advice for family enterprise consultants. From conceptual models elucidating the complexities of a family enterprise and the consultant's role in it, to specific interventions strategies for facilitating change— it is all here. The book is a must-read for those who aspire to become effective, trusted advisors to these systems." —Ivan Lansberg, senior partner, Lansberg, Gersick and Associates

"This is the book that those who work with family businesses have been waiting for. Rich in anecdote while at the same time building on the foundation of the existing body of knowledge, it offers a pragmatic, hands-on approach that will be welcomed by consultants of varying fields and levels of experience." —Jeffrey S. Wolfson, attorney, Goulston & Storrs, and Chairman Emeritus of the Northeastern University Center for Family Business

"I wish this book had been written many years ago. This is a indispensable resource for seasoned and beginning family business consultants alike." —Francois M. de Visscher, president , de Visscher & Co and board member, BEKAERT N.V.

"A sophisticated and comprehensive introduction to the richness and complexity of the consultation process when both family dynamics and business operations are center stage." —Mary F.Whiteside, Ann Arbor Center for the Family

"Finally, a book that is practical yet thought-provoking and not afraid to address difficult issues and topics. Hilburt-Davis and Dyer have made a seminal contribution to the field of family business consulting." —Karen L. Vinton, professor emeritus of business, Montana State University

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