The global economic crisis since 2008-09 has revealed deep-seated structural imbalances linked to the primacy of finance over the real economy and the predominance of speculative over productive capital. Five years after the crash, small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) remains starved of sufficient funds to invest and create jobs. In some of the fastest growing parts of Europe such as Germany, northern Italy and Central/Eastern Europe, family businesses play a key role in diversifying the economy, providing sustained employment and fostering innovation. Linked to this is the importance of families and family businesses in harnessing social capital on which the trust and cooperation on economic efficiency and social progress depend.
Main Vectors of Discussion: Examining the role of family businesses in terms of economic growth, social development and societal cohesion; Study of European examples and the main features that help explain the success of SMEs in fast-growing economies – with a special focus on the family as the most fundamental unit of society and the economy; Analysis of various potential problems with family businesses, linked to short-term factors such as economic crises and longer-term developments like demography or questions of generational succession (e.g. lack of able or willing relatives, inheritance tax, etc.); Analyzing the application of these findings to emerging markets such as Russia and critical discussion of some of the conditions that are necessary for family businesses to emerge and flourish; emphasis on the Russian case where successful examples include start-ups and SMEs in certain regions; this part of the discussions will also include structural factors like a lack of family business traditions and recent developments in relation to the transfer of property rights; Exploring ways of strengthening ties between SMEs in Russia and some of its main trading partners like Germany and Italy, e.g. by creating new or extending existing networks of professional associations, chambers of commerce and other similar structures; Examining the complex links between family businesses, SMEs and the emergence of a middle-class that underpins society and the State, based on relationships of trust and cooperation within the framework of the law, culture and religious traditions; Discussing how the family as the most fundamental unit of society is also absolutely central to economic and political developmentFamily Business