Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

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


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?”




Ivan Lansberg

Date Published



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


Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more


Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.


Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more

Take Action