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The many shapes of entrepreneurs

There are a variety of ways in which to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs may dedicate themselves to a business or to a family that has multiple business and interests in a range of industries. In fact, the development of such “family offices” can even be seen as an entrepreneurial process at multiple levels and in a number of ways and with goals similar to those of a business. Indeed, a study of the family office can help to better understand how entrepreneurs think and how they behave. It is a fascinating journey to places both real and intangible that often leads to important adventures in business.

Toward a Conceptual Model of the Role of  Entrepreneurship in the Family Office”, written by Juan Roure and Juan Luis Segurado (both from the University of Navarra), Dianne H. B. Welsh (from the University of North Carolina), and Kirby Rosplock (GenSpring Family Offices), is a sort of guidebook that can help us along this journey.

The study focuses on seeking to understand how families of entrepreneurs reinvent themselves in order to manage and govern a family office, which goes beyond their principal area of operations. What emerges is an entrepreneurial spirit applied not to a business, but to the family. The four authors start by making an important distinction, that the “family office” is not the same as the “family-owned firm”. It’s something much more complex, changing and fascinating. In order to better understand how these entities work, after an overview of the theory, the study looks into the behaviour of 32 enterprising families, of which 40 individuals were interviewed. The family offices studied are based both in the US and Europe and operate in a wide range of manufacturing segments, as well as in the food and beverage industry, in distribution, in finance and in construction.

The result is a definition of the model of entrepreneurship that these families represent – a working framework in which various elements overlap and integrate, such as the personal plans of each individual, the evolution of the reference markets, the availability of mobilisable resources, the sales and production outlooks, and the technologies available. Thus that impalpable mental structure which every entrepreneur applies to himself and to his business begins to take shape.

Toward a Conceptual Model of the Role of  Entrepreneurship in the Family Office 

Juan Roure, Juan Luis Segurado, Dianne H. B. Welsh, Kirby Rosplock

The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 4