Preparing myself to deal with probable conflicts in a family firm



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Language: English
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Case Study


This case is about a recent graduate who has to make a decision about whether or not he wants to work with his father running a family business. After studying engineering, he got a job at an oil and gas company and worked his way up the ladder. But when the oil crisis hit, he was laid off and had to look for work in an industry that was no longer hiring. He finally found a new job but he was unhappy and decided to do an MBA at IE. The case first gives background information on the father and explains how he worked really hard to make his company successful. It emphasizes that the father and son have very different professional backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses. It then goes into the father’s toxic behaviors by providing examples from the student’s past experiences with him. Then, it provides cases where details are given about different situations where the student and father got into disagreements and how the disagreements were handled. Each case shows a different scenario: the father exercising poor judgment and a lack of understanding while the student is composed and level-headed; the student acting poorly and the father keeping composed and level-headed; and the father and son working well together. Each case provides an analysis and things that they could have done better. After the case examples, the student explains coping methods he uses with his father and ponders how things might turn out if they work together. The student concludes by stating, “If I do join the family business, my strategy is to adjust my work style to his very heavily in the short term. I will push for a “meet in the middle” kind of style. I will periodically asses our progress and our behavior as the partnership matures. If I see that all of the modifications are coming from me, I will seek an exit.”

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