Economy / Society

The Italian family businesses

After the recent death of Michele Ferrero, the inventor of Nutella, his son categorically dismissed any speculation that his family could sell the business.

Despite the Catholic Church complaining for its decline, family is still a cornerstone of the Italian culture. This is showed by the fact that even multinationals like Ferrero or FIAT (now FCA), listed in the international markets, are still family-owned.

But is this really an asset? Dynastic ruling, in general, was never very efficient. Some companies don’t survive their founder, like Olivetti. Other will die out under the direction of less gifted sons or grandsons, or in Courtrooms due to inheritance suits.

Above all, the vast majority of Italian enterprises remain forever SMEs, or even micro-enterprises. These tiny entities often prove very flexible, resilient and open to innovation. But can such an enterprise model really compete in the oceanic market of the globalized world?

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