Families and fortunes: Accumulation, management succession and inheritance in wealthy families

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Since the managerial thesis (notably Berle and Means' classic study), the role of the family in capitalist enterprise and organization has often been viewed as an anachronism, the remnant of an earlier era. This article uses qualitative interviews with wealthy Australians to argue that family relationships are an enduring influence in relation to accumulation, succession and inheritance. There are two reasons. First, the decline of family control in big business is not just a historical event, but also an ongoing event that informs the passage of most entrepreneurial businesses as they grow in scale and complexity; hence the enduring influence of nepotism in large companies such as News Corporation. Second, a variety of considerations - including dynastic ambitions, tax minimization and trust - encourage family members to cooperate in the management of inheritance through family business institutions, from family holding companies to family offices. These family business institutions possibly reflect the rise of 'network forms of organization' grounded in personal trust, at the expense of large companies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Accumulation
  • Capitalism
  • Family
  • Family office
  • Inheritance
  • Management succession
  • Wealth


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