Bond survey compares family and public companies

By: Graham Gardiner

The performance of family-owned businesses will be benchmarked against public companies in a nationwide survey by Bond University’s Australian Centre

The performance of family-owned businesses will be benchmarked against public companies in a nationwide survey by Bond University’s Australian Centre for Family Business (ACFB).

A joint initiative of KPMG and Family Business Australia (FBA), the fifth annual family business survey will assess performance in the current economic climate.

Surveys will be distributed to 6,000 businesses across Australia in the coming weeks, focusing on issues such as resilience, succession, the financial crisis and crisis management.

Dennis Family Holdings is one of many Brisbane family businesses set to take part in the survey.

Executive Chairman Grant Dennis says the current economic climate presents both challenges and opportunities for family-owned companies.

"Family businesses can capitalise on the current economic climate in ways that many corporations are not able to," he says.

"The past decade has been has been ruled by the corporate sector but I think family-owned businesses and smaller private companies will have their chance to shine over the next decade."

Dennis explains that family businesses are often more conservative and have a more long-term outlook than public companies.

"Family businesses also tend to have a different culture and attitude towards employees, and this should also stand them in good stead going forward," he says.

"With the current business climate, I think there will be more people looking to start their own businesses, to give them more control over working conditions and their income.

"To this end, research focusing on the needs of family businesses should prove very useful."

Bond University’s ACFB co-director Justin Craig says the survey will provide important insights into family business.

"This year’s survey is different from research we have done in the past for several reasons," he says.

"For the first time, non-family businesses are included in the sample of respondents so we can demonstrate exactly how the current financial turmoil is affecting different sectors of the market.

"Traditionally, research has shown that family businesses often surpass their corporate-owned competitors in terms of success, and we hope to see a similar sentiment of resilience in this year’s survey."

Craig says another major benefit is the ability to compare Australian business trends with what is happening in the European market.

In fact, the survey mirrors a major study being conducted by Europe’s Family Business Network, meaning ACFB’s research will also benchmark Australian businesses at an international level.

"The survey results will not only help financiers and advocacy groups gain a better understanding of family business needs, but will also be an invaluable resource for Bond University students currently completing their Executive MBA specialising in family business management," he says.

Preliminary survey results will be announced at FBA’s 11th National Family Business Conference in Darwin during August.

The final report will be released by the end of August, including commentary from family business owners, advisors and academics.

An online version of the survey is also available for completion by any interested parties at here.

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