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Faculty & Research


Family Business on the Couch: A Psychological Perspective

Kets de Vries M. F. R., Carlock R., Florent-Treacy E. (2007). 
Family Business on the Couch: A Psychological Perspective.

The family business is pulled in several directions. Individual family members involved with it will strive to create opportunities for themselves, as well as financial gain and rewarding relationships. Their desires and motivations will affect the company. Then there are structural conflicts between the operating principles of a family and their business. However, the two systems are interdependent: the family’s values and behavior affect the company’s policies and decisions; and the company influences family members’ careers, relationships and finances. The mingling of family and business systems in a family enterprise explains why drawing on both the psychodynamic and the family systems approach has proved to be extremely helpful in addressing family business issues that fall outside the boundaries of traditional management theory.

In this book, ideas from the psychodynamic and family systemic approaches are integrated with an existing body of literature on leadership, executive behavior, decision-making, group dynamics, organizational stress, power and politics, organizational design, organizational culture, strategy, and organizational development and consultation, to offer new perspectives on family business functioning. The application of concepts derived from these psychological paradigms to more traditional management theory discloses patterns that can be woven into a unified gestalt, helping us to explain the psychodynamics of life in family businesses.


Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change

Emeritus Senior Affiliate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise