Case Detail

Case Summary

Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

Case Number: 7-404-750, Year Published: 2005, Revision Date: August 31, 2009

HBS Number: KEL284

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Authors: John Ward; Carol Adler Zsolnay

Key Concepts

Family Business, Succession, Succession Planning, Intermingling Family and Business Money, Supporting Adult Offspring, Competition


The case looks at Thomas Mann’s fiction novel Buddenbrooks and traces the family business trajectory of the family at the center of the novel. Many family business issues are raised, including succession, intermingling of family and business money, supporting adult offspring, and competition.

Is the saying “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves” inevitable in a multi-generation family business?

Number of Pages: 6

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Family Business

Geographic: Germany

Organization Name: Buddenbrooks

Organization Size: Small

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 1800s