Bivalent Attributes of the Family Firm

By John A. Davis

Originally published in Family Business Review Journal (June 1996)

Although family-owned and managed firms are the predominant form of business organization in the world today, little systematic research exists on these companies. This paper builds upon insights found in the emerging literature on these enterprises and upon our own observations to provide a conceptual frame-work to better understand these complex organizations. We introduce the concept of the Bivalent Attributes–a unique, inherent feature of an organization that is the source of both advantages and disadvantages–to explain the dynamics of the family firm.

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