Perspectives from ISB

PwC conducted in-depth conversations with 35 next gens from 21 countries and polled more than 100 additional next gens for its new report, Same passion, different paths: How the next generation of family business leaders are making their mark. ​ The results showed an incoming generation of family business leaders confronting generational gaps and culture change.

“Our research shows that digital is one area where the generation gap can be a real positive,” said David Wills, PwC’s Global Entrepreneurial & Private Business Leader. “While next gens are excited to tackle digital, the current generation is often more cautious to embrace the proposed pace of change.”

Partly due to a greater degree of transformation and investment needed to effect digital change, many current generation leaders may be cautious about committing to it. About a third of next gens polled (36%) expressed frustration that the current generation does not fully understand the potential for digital and the risks it could pose.

Likewise, the vast majority of next gens see innovation as a core component, with 82% responding that innovation is very important or essential to business success. However a mere 15% of those polled see innovation being implemented well at their firms.

In the study, PwC identified four main approaches next gens are taking to build their own paths to success: stewards, transformers, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs. Some next gens straddle more than one of these continually evolving paths, but they can provide a helpful way to separate the different challenges, risks and opportunities that the next generation faces, and how success can look and feel different depending on the route they choose to take.

Stewards – Individuals focused on ensuring the long-term sustainability of the family firm and protecting its profitability by staying true to the established core business

Transformers – Next gens who take on the task of driving significant change in the family firm, with the scope and support to do so

Intrapreneurs – Those whose families carve out a specific venture for next gens within the family firm, effectively the opportunity to be an entrepreneur within the firm itself

Entrepreneurs – Next gens who pursue their own ventures outside the family firm, often in completely unrelated sectors

“These next gens are truly impressive individuals, already making a significant mark whether inside their family firm or on their own,” said Wills. “Our research indicates that ‘success’ can take many forms, and there are many different routes to achieve it.”


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