Life after death: Implications of bereavement for the post-succession process in family businesses

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In this study, we explore how a family event - the death of a family business leader - affects the way a family business is managed by the family successor during the post-succession stage. When a family business leader passes away, the family has to deal with grief, while at the same time reorganize the business. The death of a family business leader is a stressful event. Family successors need to adapt to their new role and adjust the business to the new reality, while simultaneously dealing with the loss of a loved one. Exploratory, qualitative research among six family businesses shows how the interplay between the process of coping with bereavement and the succession process proceeds through four stages. Firstly, family successors put their grief aside and focus strongly on continuation of the business. Subsequently, they experience tension between the past and present until a turning point, after which they start reorganizing the business. The analysis also identified several boundary conditions that reduce tensions between the family and business role. By elucidating the dynamics of this process, we contribute to research pertaining to succession and the family system."
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020


  • Family business
  • Succession
  • Family science
  • Ceo death
  • Grief
  • Qualitative Research


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