John Davis reflects on the evolution
of the family enterprise advisory field

Interview with John A. Davis, 2014


"When the field of family business first began over three decades ago, we and everybody in the field were focused on the family business and issues related to it. Issues such as succession, boards of directors and work relationships among relatives topped the list. That was the mainstay of our work for decades and is still the core of what we do in our advisory practice.

But over the decades, we kept bumping into other issues that were central to families that extended beyond the business. Issues such as governance, career development, compensation issues, ownership strategies, inheritance concerns, the impact of wealth on families, growing financial wealth, family offices and family philanthropy. Every time we bumped into an issue that was critical to a family getting its work done, we researched it, learned about it, watched how families dealt with it and became expert in advising families on it.

Our lens kept broadening and now we look at the entire family enterprise system to understand it organizationally, strategically, its dynamics, and how the parts come together and influence one another. Over these three decades, our lens has gotten bigger and we understand there is more to account for in a family's life beyond its business. We understand the family enterprise comprehensively."