Family business values case studies
Fostering family values: A Dutch study
Philanthropy for family firms

The secret ingredient in your success

For a family business, more than any other, values are the connective tissue—the source of your success, your commitment, and your longevity. They bring power to a business, helping to assure cohesion, resolve conflicts and strengthen operations—through the natural act of passing down a legacy.

But values often go deeper than simply benefiting the family. Many of today’s most successful family-owned businesses are extending the power of their values to benefiting others—not only their businesses and people, but also the communities in which they operate, as well as the projects and philanthropies that fit their personal mission. 

In order to have a real and tangible impact, however, value-inspired changes must be planned and executed with precision. This is where PwC’s Family Business Services is well placed to help.

Values in action: The PwC way

If you’d like to gain real insight into how values give your family business a competitive advantage—and optimise and expand their positive impact—we’re here to help. Our advisors have the capabilities, experience and resources to help you analyse the values of your family business, and identify opportunities to amplify them throughout your organisation and beyond.

We can help you with all kinds of values-centred missions, including:

  • Social entrepreneurship. Helping your family business develop strategies, business models and dynamics to drive social entrepreneurship.
  • Philanthropy. Advising both individuals and families on your philanthropic goals, leading to thoughtful and productive charitable giving.
  • Family values alignment. We can assess and help strengthen the alignment between your family, ownership and business values to ensure healthy family ties, sustained organisational performance and empowerment for the next generation.

The shared legacy of a family-owned enterprise can be a powerful motivator—not only for a personal and business commitment, but for a record of positive, values-based impact that can span generations. We invite you to contact us to explore how we can help you understand your values and make them work for you in every arena that is important to you.

Case studies

The client's challenge

The family business had grown to a point where it needed to make a significant change in order to continue to compete effectively in the global market. After much thought, the family came to the difficult decision that the best way forward would be to sell the company to a large multinational.

The business remains the largest employer in the region where it was founded two generations ago. The family, viewing this as a serious responsibility, were keen to use part of the proceeds from the sale to create positive social change in their home region. At the same time, they wanted to use exclusively entrepreneurial principles in setting up an organisation dedicated to helping those who were unable to help themselves.

Our response

We helped the family sharpen their understanding of what social impact they desired to accomplish, and how it related to their family values. We then assessed the opportunities for their investment – including a review of the business models of the short-listed options.

At the end of this process, the family was able to decide with confidence which option they wanted to pursue. We then helped them start their social enterprise; it became operational quickly.

The client's challenge

Certain members of a family in business – from both the senior and the next generation – had an interest, at the individual level, in philanthropy. While their involvement in philanthropic endeavours mirrored, to a certain extent, the family business’ values, there were no common giving principles.

The family council recognised the importance of “giving back” — and was conscious as well of philanthropy’s potential for strengthening the bonds between family members and building a stronger family culture. So it decided to create a more structured approach to the family’s philanthropic efforts.

Our response

We worked with the family council to find common ground around their philanthropic goals and helped them identify which types of investments would be viable, and which would not, in the context of the family’s values. We then analysed the members’ existing philanthropic projects and embedded them into a larger overall framework.

We also advised on the most appropriate structures to enable their philanthropic investments to be controlled effectively – and helped implement a simple mechanism to evaluate the investment impact on a regular basis.

The client's challenge

The family advisory board feared that the post-merger integration with another family firm could be impaired by conflicts arising from the two diverging cultures — divergences which were predominantly related to each firm’s family business values — and by difficulties on the part of managers to compromise on their respective cultural heritages.

The advisory board felt it needed to create clarity around shared values, embed them into the day-to-day business, and thus develop a culture that preserved the best of both family firms’ heritages.

Our response

We reviewed the two incumbent cultures and assessed how close they were to the desired shared culture. We then determined the steps necessary to advance the family, ownership and business values. Finally, we implemented a mechanism to monitor these values’ on-going alignment with the desired culture.

This more strategic approach enabled the advisory board to address the problematic areas clinically rather than surgically — and avoid the invasive, abstract (and therefore unmanageable) process that the family advisory board feared. Instead, these mechanisms became increasingly embedded in the merged company’s operations, which, slowly but surely, has generated a stronger shared culture.

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