Answers are important, but asking good questions can be even more so. In our increasingly divisive world, the right questions can truly demonstrate our willingness to understand the needs of the other side.
For the younger generation in business families – Next Gens – the right questions haven’t previously been posed nor answered. Too often a lack of understanding prevails between the wishes of the senior generations and the concerns and needs of Next Gens. To compound this, much academic research has typically focused on the parents’ generation because they are the ones in power. These realities led Telfer Professors Peter Jaskiewicz and Sabine Rau to ask: what do Next Gens really need and want?
To answer this question, Jaskiewicz and Rau went straight to the source, asking Next Gens for their views, perspectives and concerns. The result: newly released book Enabling Next Generation Legacies: 35 Questions that Next Generation Members in Enterprising Families Ask, which is now available in hardcover. The book brings together the thirty-five most pressing questions faced by Next Gen members around the world, with responses from leading academics and enterprising families.
The book was recently the topic of an online article in Family Firm Institute’s publication, FFI Practitioner. The article explains how the book came together, starting with a research process of formal and informal interviews over several years with senior and Next Gen members of more than 100 business families. From these interviews, it quickly became obvious how much the challenges of senior generations differed from those of the Next Gen. Realizing there was a need to consider the Next Gens’ perspective more actively, Jaskiewicz and Rau systematically collected their questions, asked for feedback, then established a final list of thirty-five questions.
With the intention of encouraging discussion and dialogue instead of pushing static solutions, each question provides a thoughtful response from a leading academic or practitioner, followed by commentaries from Next Gens themselves. This unique format offers a fresh perspective on the topic of family business, equally relevant to academics, practitioners and businesses, bringing together the global community to answer the next generation’s call.
As members of Telfer’s new Family Enterprise Legacy Institute (FELI), Jaskiewicz and Rau will be using research findings like those from Enabling Next Generation Legacies to help bridge the gap between differing generations in family businesses. Specialised programs such as the Certificate in Responsible Ownership tackle the intergenerational disconnect and help prepare the next generation, leading to healthy, sustainable relationships within the family and business.