FSD2458 Significance and Role of Family Businesses in Society 2002

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  • Harju, Johanna (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)
  • Heinonen, Jarna (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)
  • Kovalainen, Anne (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)
  • Känsälä, Marja (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)
  • Malinen, Pasi (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)
  • Stenholm, Pekka (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)
  • Toivonen, Jouko (Turku School of Economics. TSE Entre)


businesses, employers, entrepreneurs, family life, generations (age), labour force, private ownership, small businesses, values

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The survey charted small and medium-sized Finnish enterprises in 2002. The aim was to examine the significance, challenges and problems of family businesses in Finland as well as to produce concrete and current information on the development needs of family businesses.

First, general information was obtained on the company. Questions charted the year of foundation, number of employees, net sales and share of export, and whether the company operated in the local, regional, or international market. The respondents indicated the primary customer group of the enterprise and its share in the net sales. They also estimated the financial situation of the firm. The role of family in the enterprise was examined by asking the respondents whether their close relatives had a share of ownership in the company, whether any close relatives worked as salaried employees or assistants in the company, and how much the company's business was discussed in the family. The respondents also indicated the number of generations who had run the family business, how large a share of the firm was owned by close relatives, and whether the family owned other companies. The objectives of the business were queried by canvassing the importance of increasing net sales, securing jobs, or providing opportunities for personal development. In addition, the respondents told whether the net sales of the company were increasing, and how the company pursued to increase them. Various questions also charted the values and practices of business activities.

Next, the respondents were asked to evaluate the strengths of family entrepreneurship, such as the members' commitment, common views on objectives, and swiftness in decision-making. Interplay and conflicts between family life and business activities were canvassed with the help of questions on conflicts between work and family, distribution of work, developing the enterprise, flow of information, rewarding, commitment, and ownership. The role of other bodies in the firm was charted by asking the respondents whether there was lack of confidence or disagreement on profit distribution or objectives between the family and other owners, and whether outside owners had too much influence in the firm. Interaction between the family and outside employees was probed by a couple of questions. The future of business was investigated by asking about a possible change of generation. Finally, the respondents were asked about the challenges related to the transfer of business, such as finding a person who could continue the business, giving up business activities, transferring know-how, the professional skills of the potential continuators, and funding the transfer of business.

Background variables included the company's year of foundation, number of employees, company form, and net sales.

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