This article analyzes the requirements that family successors must fulfill to be considered suitable successors from three perspectives. We identify the recommended attributes and exigencies of family successors in the literature, generate a general requirement profile and compare this profile with predecessors’ expectations and successors’ perceptions of requirements based on data extracted from 106 interviews with 53 families. Our results for all three perspectives indicate that hard skills constitute a necessary but insufficient attribute for suitable successor candidates. Soft skills are at least as strongly appreciated as hard skills. Furthermore, because predecessors have an implicit rather than explicit understanding of family successor requirements, they often leave potential successors in the dark regarding their expectations; thus, descendants may need to guess which attributes they should contribute to the firm. We observe a systematic order of and importance ranking attached to predecessors’ expected skills that closely overlap with scholarly recommendations. We thus conclude that the process of recruiting and selecting family successors is systematic and well considered.
Schlepphorst, S.; Moog, P. (2014): Left in the dark: Family successors´ requirement profiles in the family business succession process, in: Journal of Family Business Strategy, Vol. 5, Issue 4, S. 358-371.