A Model for Effective Professionalisation of Family Firms: Exploratory Research of Family Firms in Thailand

  • Derek Keswakaroon

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


The focus of this doctoral research is on advancing knowledge of what family business leaders can do to best position their family business for long-term success and survivability across successive generations. Despite the prevalence of family businesses and their importance to the economy in virtually all countries, the rate of family business failure beyond the third generation remains excessively high. While there is greater understanding of some of the more prominent root causes of these failures (i.e. family conflict, unwillingness to cede control), the solutions to pre-empt these failures is less well understood. The family business research field remains relatively nascent, and research into family business professionalisation is relatively discrete and limited. Extant family business professionalisation research has also largely focused on examining family business management professionalisation, with lesser focus on the equally important aspect of family model professionalisation. Only a small handful of scholars have attempted to recommend a planned approach to family business professionalisation. But these are either incomplete, too generic, or descriptive. Family business leaders remain unclear as to how to effectively transform their family business into a professionally-run family business. The research sets out to address how family business leaders can professionalise their operations to best position their firm for continued success across future generations. It aims to develop a practical integrated family business professionalisation model that will guide family business leaders to position and address professionalisation issues with confidence in a more strategic, effective, efficient, timely and systematic way. The model aims to holistically address both aspects of professionalisation: family business management and family model. This research used a combination of qualitative in-depth interviews and case study research methods to deliver on the research objectives within the doctoral research timeframe. This research interviewed family business professional advisors, and studied a sample of eight family firms in Thailand. This research drew rich information and insights from interviews and observations of meetings and interactions over a one and a half year research period. The main research findings describe the key elements of a professionalised family business (both the family business management and family model aspects), and the different paths and pitfalls that family businesses have undertaken to professionalise. The research findings also provide a practical and repeatable five-phase integrated family business professionalisation model. The model offers a planned step-by-step change approach, including objectives, key considerations, and suggested tools and templates to help guide family business leaders’ efforts to professionalise their firms. The model also provides strategic choices and guidelines for implementation that family business leaders can follow. The effectiveness of the exploratory model will be further tested in future qualitative and quantitative studies.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAdrian Nelson (Supervisor) & Jonathan Aylen (Supervisor)

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