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When the Family Business Is a Sickness

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When a shared business retards the life-cycle development of both generations, it may not be possible for consultants to “restore” their system to health as a family business, because it is unhealthy for such families to be in business together at all. Fantasies of saving their family business, or “succeeding” in passing it to the next generation, are misguided at best. The author argues that when parents’ ego development is inadequate, normal individuation makes them and their children so anxious that the business functions like an addiction. A primary role of the consultant is to recognize such cases, diagnose them carefully, and intervene in ways that encourage the next generation to explore a wider range of options.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Family psychologist who specializes in business conflict resolution, and a faculty member at the Family Institute of Northwestern University.

Publication date: 01 December 1996

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