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Ruling vs. Governing; On the dialects of governance, Family Business Magazine

Abstract

In the late 1960s, John Petersen (a pseudonym) and his brothers inherited a modest pharmaceutical busi­ness from their father. Today, it is a multibillion-dollar global company, in great measure thanks to John's relentless entrepreneurial drive. Now with 15 adult cousins in the third generation, the Petersen family has built an elaborate governance structure that includes an independent board of directors, shareholder and family assemblies, a family council, a family office and a philanthropic foundation. While John retains his undisputed lead­ership as the head of the family enter­prise, the brothers, the cousins and their spouses all participate actively in the gov­ernance structure, which has empowered the family to make choices that at times challenge John's priorities and wishes. Yet he also understands that when he exerts his influ­ence arbitrarily, he perpetuates a reliance on him that may well compromise the maturation of the governance process and ultimately the continuity of the enterprise. As he put it succinctly in a recent con­versation, "When should I rule and when should I govern?”

Type

Article

Author(s)

Ivan Lansberg

Date Published

2009

Citations

Lansberg, Ivan. 2009. Ruling vs. Governing; On the dialects of governance. Family Business Magazine.

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