The meaning of a family business and why they are important to economies

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Birdthistle, N
Hales, R
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Birdthistle, Naomi

Hales, Rob

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The study of family businesses is still in its early stages as a discipline. There is a challenge within the academic and business communities due to the lack of a uniform definition of what constitutes a family business. Professor John Davis, a leading expert in this field, has reviewed numerous definitions found in the literature and categorised them into two main types: structural definitions and process definitions (Davis, 2001). The structural definition focuses on ownership or management arrangements within the family business, such as ‘51% or more ownership by family members’. On the other hand, the process definition centres around the level of involvement the ‘family’ has in the business. An example of the process definition, according to Davis (2001), is the family's influence on the business's policies and their desire to maintain control over the business. Table 1 presents definitions from prominent researchers on family businesses, categorised according to Davis's (2001) structural versus process lens.

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Attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality

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© 2024 Naomi Birdthistle and Rob Hales. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. These works are published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of these works (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

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Business systems in context

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Birdthistle, N; Hales, R, The meaning of a family business and why they are important to economies, Attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality, 2023, pp. 13-24