Dynasties: Fortunes and Misfortunes of the World's Great Family Businesses

Dynasties: Fortunes and Misfortunes of the World's Great Family Businesses

by David S. Landes
     
 

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From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, a fascinating look at the crossroads of kin and coin

David S. Landes has earned a reputation as a brilliant writer and iconoclast among economic historians. In his latest acclaimed work, he takes a revealing look at the quality that distinguishes a third…  See more details below

Overview

From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, a fascinating look at the crossroads of kin and coin

David S. Landes has earned a reputation as a brilliant writer and iconoclast among economic historians. In his latest acclaimed work, he takes a revealing look at the quality that distinguishes a third of today's Fortune 500 companies: family ownership. From the banking fortunes of Rothschild and Morgan to the automobile empires of Ford and Toyota, Landes explores thirteen different dynasties, revealing what lay behind their successes-and how extravagance, bad behavior, and poor enterprise brought some of them to their knees. A colorful history that is full of surprising conclusions, Dynasties is an engrossing mix of ambition, eccentricity, and wealth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beginning as a work of economics, moving through soap opera and finishing as history, this book tells the stories of 11 great family businesses in Europe, Japan and America with at least three generations of family control. Observing that the vast majority of businesses are family owned and run, historian Landes (The Wealth and Poverty of Nations) argues that dynastic businesses offer a proven route to developing emerging markets, while companies managed by unrelated professionals and funded by public investors offer mostly bad jobs and slim profit shares to local employees. Even among the largest corporations, many retain significant financial and managerial involvement by the founder's relatives, and those that do perform better than the others. Landes's stories emphasize emotional life within these dynasties; he includes business details and general economic history only as context for family adventures and feuds. His emphasis is on how family considerations such as authority, love, trust, envy, marriage, adoption and succession determine the growth and direction of the business. While this may seem irrational compared to entrusting strategic decisions to specialized professionals selected according to talent rather than bloodline, Landes argues that family does a better job. (Sept. 25) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Economic historian Landes (history & economics, emeritus, Harvard; The Wealth and Poverty of Nations) offers a lively although very loosely organized analysis of 11 major global family businesses and the personalities involved in their successes and challenges. He defines "dynasties" as at least "three successive generations of family control," and he covers multiple generations of family businesses in banking (e.g., the Rothschilds), automobile production (e.g., the Fords and the Toyodas), and the "mining and working of raw materials" (e.g., the Rockefellers). Though he admits that managerial corporate structures run by unrelated professionals dominate the international business world, he points out that most businesses, large and small, are family-owned and run, that 90 percent of American businesses were family run as of ten years ago, accounting for more than half of U.S. goods and services, and that they now constitute one-third of those in the Fortune 500. He concludes that family businesses are especially important for underdeveloped countries because they offer reputation, stability, profit-share, and long-term reliability.This overview, complete with family sagas, is interesting, but readers who want more substance and structure could read particular biographies, e.g., Ron Chernow's titles on J.P. Morgan, the Warburgs, and John D. Rockefeller. Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Dynasties is rich in anecdote and will bring pleasure to the many readers who admired Landes's last book. . . . It offers the same combination of shrewd insight and an engagingly conversational style. (Niall Ferguson, The New Republic)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101650905
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/25/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Sklar's narration is understated, keeping the stories well paced but avoiding a salacious tone. He often makes it seem as if the listener is being told an anecdote by a friend.” —-AudioFile

Meet the Author

David S. Landes is professor emeritus of history and economics at Harvard and author of the bestseller The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. His other books include Bankers and Pashas, The Unbound Prometheus, and Revolution in Time.

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