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Hoy, Frank and Sharma, Pramodita. (2010). Entrepreneurial Family Firms.

Hoy, Frank and Sharma, Pramodita. (2010). Entrepreneurial Family Firms. Pearson Education, Inc.: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

The emphasis and value of this book is identified in what can be learned from entrepreneurial family business strategies, and applied to the management of new and currently growing firms. The authors start out by speculating that there is more to the adaptation of effective management styles utilized in family firms than those based on theoretical models found in conventional university business courses. This new book by Hoy and Sharma is aimed at assisting those who are launching or joining entrepreneurial family ventures, as well as university students at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The book sets out to do this by effectively aligning the life-cycle stages of the individual; the family; the business and the product or services offered. This life-cycle alignment is also reflected upon along with industry and economic life-cycle impacts upon entrepreneurial activities in family business settings.

The book starts out with a brief but fascinating case study assessment of the five largest American family firms as identified from the 2009, Family Business list of America's major family companies. These were, in order of succession, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. number one; second was Ford Motor Company; Koch Industries, Inc. a company who has contributed to the oil and gas industry as well as mining, agriculture and real estate ventures; the fourth company was Cargill, Inc. a world leader in agricultural industries and grain trading and the final case study paints a picture for the reader of Carlson Cos., Inc. This family business with 972 hotels including the Radisson and Regent chains has more recently taken a strategic focus toward corporate travel. Having highlighted the success stories of America's top five family businesses, the book then proceeds to examine the stages and ages of business and entrepreneur alike.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part covers chapters' two to five which take a step by step approach to the implications of the individual life-cycle stages and the relationship to age and entrepreneurial activities. This is a challenging yet interesting aspect from which to extract the importance of the life-cycle of the individual entrepreneur upon strategic decisions within the family business. Based upon the positive or negative implications of the stage of one's life-cycle, the book examines how the business strategy can and is influenced by the ages and life stages of the family members. As the entrepreneur and family members evolutionary life stages and attitudes toward management evolve, progressively their ownership status and developed skills contribute to the shaping of the next generation of family members entering the business. One of the key messages within this area of the book is how relationships and communication become more complex as the family business grows, as such, it becomes necessary but also more intricate to transmit information across generations as well as to non-kin managers.

Continuing on in this vain family life-cycle stages are also examined in terms of the importance of the blood relationship of the family unit and those who contributed to the enterprise. Family phases through recent history are discussed; these include the extended and multigenerational families; the nuclear family post world war two and the broad assortment of family unit structures that exist today, all of which are identified as providing the foundations for incubating entrepreneurial skills. Hoy and Sharma's (2010) discussions relate cultural contributions developed through family beliefs and values as well as fashioning attitudes. In addition, they examine the impacts of co-preneurs, births and the maturity of family members on the psychological characteristics that influence entrepreneurial behaviour.

The book goes on to then examine the phases of birth, growth, maturity and decline of the business life-cycle and the implications for change that occur as a result. The importance of education, preparation and mentoring for a smooth transition to new generational leadership and the importance of overcoming the liabilities of newness are also dealt with in this part of the book. The authors also identify the contribution of the three circles model in terms of the intertwinement of family and business in times of change facilitating stakeholders' transition to their new roles. The authors point out the impacts of the product, industry, economic and environmental life cycles, based upon the maturity phase of the family owned business. They also focus on the importance of resources in terms of overall entrepreneurial success. This section on resources could have been introduced to this book much earlier or integrated into each of the respective chapters because of the level of impact family resources can have upon all phases of the life cycle be they individual, business or economic.

In the second part of the book the authors focus on the phases of entrepreneurship. Firstly, they have looked at the importance of family in terms of the start up phase of any new entrepreneurial business. This forms the; who, what, when, where and how of any entrepreneurial business venture. The push and pull strategies of the growth phase are then discussed; this included the pains associated with the inevitable resistance to change. There is an emphasis, in terms of this phase, on the difficulties of the introduction of non-family members as part of the growth strategy. The authors provide advice, at this point, on how to deal with issues such as expert advice and professionalism. The maturity phase of the business cycle and the impacts based on accumulated wealth, created by previous generations, are also covered, a pertinent issue in family business. The authors have made important contributions in terms of understanding the requirements for multigenerational survival that should be taken on board by all readers. The writers have provided a combination of ideas and theory in terms of dealing with the decline cycle of the business and regeneration of strategies and entrepreneurial activities by the next generation.

In the third and final section of the book the authors provides the reader with a tool kit of instruments and ascendancy plans that can be put in place to insure the appropriate strategies for business longevity are enacted. The writers make appropriate recommendations about business structures such as the introduction of boards of advisors to company directors; partnerships agreements and the ever important issue in family business, the prenuptial agreement. In conclusion the authors have aptly suggested that entrepreneurial family firms should be directed by prospective opportunities rather than bound by past accomplishments. This is a sound body of work that offers readers a top end theoretical basis for launching or enhancing entrepreneurial outcomes.

Leone Cameron

Faculty of Business

University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

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Author:Cameron, Leone
Publication:Journal of New Business Ideas and Trends
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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