Family businesses differ from non-family businesses due to the presence of the family as major owners in the family enterprise, and their specific style of involvement in managing the business. With family ownership comes the family’s desire to sustain the business for generations. At the same time, however, the family includes many family members who might not have shared values that unify them under one mission, family owners who might have different views about the decisions they need to make as an owner group, and family manager in the business who might not be aligned with other non-active owners. In many cases, clear family protocols to guide family members around the areas in which they hold different views is missing. On top of that, the deep-rooted family ties involve a lot of emotions around the family and the business which could further complicate disagreements. Thus, the presence of an ungoverned family in the business creates an inherent risk of family conflicts and feuds, which is the main challenge to achieve the sustainability objective of family enterprises.

Many of us have heard stories of business empires that collapsed due to family feuds over the business. This makes conflict one of the greatest concerns that business families have. Conflict is indeed one of the most important challenges to understand in order for business families to protect against its destructive effects.

While it is a critical topic, there has not been enough available and applicable content, especially in the MENA region, to help business families detect conflict at a deeper level and find ways to prevent and manage it. Much of what we observe about family business conflicts in is that conflicts are inevitable, especially as family enterprises transition to the third generation. Conflict is often described as risky and destructive, and that one of the best approaches to manage conflict in business families is through agreeing on governance protocols for the family and the business. Indeed, many of these ideas hold true to a great extent. However, the topic of conflict is wider and deeper.

We hope that by exploring business family conflict in greater depth, we will help business families change how they think about conflict and find ways to prevent and manage it. To this end, we have embarked on a research project about family business conflict in Saudi Arabia to build greater understanding of the topic with the objective of providing deeper insights that could contribute to the understanding and management of conflict in business families in our region.

Dr. Hanoof Abokhodair

Managing Partner The Business Family House

    Dr. Hanoof is the Co-Founder and the Managing Partner of the Business Family House (BFH), a boutique family business advisory firm and a Visiting Researcher at the American University of Sharjah. She worked extensively with KPMG and the National Centre for Family Businesses (NCFB) before, and earned her PhD in Management from King’s College London, with her research focusing on family businesses in Saudi. She also holds an MBA from Aston University, UK.

Dr. Dalal Alrubaishi

Associate Professor Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University

    Dr. Dalal is an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses at the College of Business Administration in Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU). She holds an MBA from Prince Sultan University and a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. Coming from a family business herself, Dalal’s research focuses on the entrepreneurial behavior, innovation, and succession planning of Saudi family businesses.

KPMG Private Enterprise & Family Business

    KPMG Private Enterprise & Family Business was established to focus on companies with private ownership and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) and are typically financed by venture capital, private equity, family offices, or are standalone private entities and family businesses. When it comes to family businesses, KPMG provides services that aid, not only the operations of family businesses, but also taps into the family dynamics of business families. KPMG’s advantage depends on leveraging on its global network of professionals, ability to provide a technology enabled one stop shop of cross functional services, and expertise in serving businesses across their business lifecycle as the personal and/or family wealth grows. KPMG Private Enterprise & Family Business is the trusted adviser for a significant number of the major business families in Saudi Arabia. Being in close touch with the family business ecosystem helps the team in catering KPMG’s solutions to fit the needs of business families in the Kingdom. KPMG Private Enterprise & Family Business is also active in producing research publications and organizing periodic events in the form of summits, webinars, and discussion roundtables to discuss topics which are of great importance to Business Families such as governance, succession, NextGen, and philanthropy.

National Center for Family Business

    The National Center for Family Business (NCFB) was established under the Royal Decree in 2012, as a joint initiative by the Ministry of Commerce and the Federation of Saudi Chambers. NCFB has been working on achieving its mission through providing services and communicating effectively with family businesses, government organizations, consulting firms, and the public to build an ecosystem that reinforces the sustainability of family businesses.