Indian Family Business Mantras is a 21 st century handbook on all aspects of family business. The authors – Peter Leach and Tatwamasi Dixit – have contributed extensively to the discourse on family business and have amalgamated and incorporated Western and Eastern management concepts in the book. Both authors are highly experienced in the field of family business and their decision to pool their talents and skills has proved effective and powerful.

At the outset, the book talks about the genesis of the Great Indian Family Business laced with ancient Indian cultural traditions and practices. The evolution of professions leading to the modern business era is showcased. Wherever they are based, family businesses face common challenges –

  • Coping with the overlaps between  family and business systems.
  • Organising responsible family ownership.
  • Working productively with non-family managers.
  • Developing next-generation leaders.
  • Creating policies to manage the roles, remuneration and rivalries of family members.
  • Implementing successful generational transitions.
  • Establishing best practices in family and business governance.

These complex dilemmas affect most family businesses sooner or later and the aim of this book is to help family business people prepare themselves to approach the issues in the right way and arrive at appropriate decisions. In far too many cases, by the time the problems associated with the issues are identified it is too late to take action as the business is well down the road to distress and upheaval, and sometimes even failure. The chances of success for a family business are greatly increased by ensuring that the major, life-threatening questions are tackled at an early stage and plans developed for the future. The company’s commercial activities and opportunities must be continually examined and evaluated, likewise the firm’s relationship with the family needs to be constantly assessed, managed and reviewed.

This is not a ‘how-to’ book for family businesses. Indeed, there can be no such thing because each family business is different, and there are really no standard rules that can be applied across firms without adaptation. Instead, what the authors have proposed are some broad frameworks, mindsets, processes and best practice principles that are (sensitive to Indian traditions and realities) designed to shape problem-solving perspectives for family businesses.

The entire book takes a pragmatic approach and is interspersed with analogies and concepts from the Indian literature on values and culture. Interesting real life examples and case studies of family businesses from various topographies are included for a heady expedition and a lively read. Lastly, an important point concerns the structure of the book, which in many ways reflects the development and life cycles of family businesses themselves — that is, a progression from straightforward owner-manager beginnings through to third generation and beyond multi-generational family companies; from clear-cut simplicity through to significant complexity.

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