Action Learning for Developing and Supporting Leaders in Family Firms

Research Problem

Nowadays, more people find it beneficial and reasonable to prepare next generations to lead and develop family businesses (Barbera et al. 2015). It is very important to prepare young family members to enter the chosen sphere of business and develop it on the required level. It is also necessary to explain how to share the same ideals and talents and what it means to support the idea of family business. There are certain groups of people, who identify the idea of family business as a definite chance to have a good job and earn money. Young people do not find it necessary to get the required portion of education, comprehend the basics of the chosen business, and control their emotions (Breton-Miller & Miller 2015). That is why the necessity to develop and support leaders in family firms remains to be a serious issue.

People have to learn how to promote family business, and education provides the required portion of direction, awareness, language, and hope (Lansberg & Gersick 2015). Increasing attention to family business means the promotion of leadership and management activities that can be developed by means of action learning. This approach helps to solve the chosen problem and reflect on their attitudes and preferred actions (Trehan & Pedler 2009). This project aims at developing action learning ideas that can help to develop and support leaders in a family business. Leaders have to realise that their task is not only to train a new generation of professionals in the chosen sphere of business but also to deal with family members and make use of personal emotions and relations.


A family business has already spread around the whole globe. People from different countries are eager to create a business that is based on family relations and connections that have been identified over the centuries. A family business attracts the attention of many people because it is usually characterised by some guarantees, high standards, and good quality. Not to disappoint potential and regular consumers, the leaders of a family business should know how to support younger members and explain the peculiarities of the chosen work. An educating process is a chance to study and reflect on new material. Family members can get psychological and professional support. They understand what they can do to improve their affairs and protect family relations. Such characteristics as collaboration, partnership and engagement can explain the choice of action learning as a method to support leaders in a family business. This approach usually favours self-empowered people (Trehan & Pedler 2009). Lansberg and Gersick (2015) have already offered a deductive approach with the help of which several models were used for the analysis of family relations in the sphere of business and leaders’ understanding of their duties and an inductive approach with the help of which leaders share their practices and reflect on them.

Regarding the current technological progress and demands to develop a business, it is necessary to re-investigate the sphere of action learning and clarify how people can study the peculiarities of a family business and support each other in leading their companies. It is expected that people should understand how to succeed in financial, psychological, emotional, and even physiological support and use action learning as a chance to study and analyse the outcomes of an educational process.

Key Issues and Background

The necessity to research the idea of action learning to develop and support the leaders in a family business is defined by several past studies. Barbera et al. (2015) have already the WPL (whole-person learning) tool to promote the necessary leadership qualities in a family business; still, they fail to explain how such independent variables as family size, the size of a company, or age can define the project. Breton-Miller and Miller’s investigation (2015) creates a solid basis for the investigations of educational roles that should be played by different family members. Lansberg and Gersick (2015) underline the importance of the choice of the material for educational purposes. This project is a chance to understand how action learning can be used to improve the basics of a family business, identify the roles that have to be performed by educators and students, and discuss the materials that can be used in a working process. It is suggested to divide this project into three main parts.

First, it is necessary to comprehend and explain why the family business issue has to be properly investigated and educated. Second, the action learning approach should be identified to be implemented for supporting and developing leaders. And finally, suggestions on how to improve the already created business without touching upon emotions and personal preferences should be given. A family business is complicated indeed, and people should learn how to develop it properly regarding some ethical considerations, working approaches, and demands of all stakeholders. Leaders are challenged not only by the necessity to guide people, consider the goals of projects, or predict the outcomes but also by the possibility to work with familiar people, understand their weak and strong aspects, and use all this information properly.

Reference List

Barbera, F, Bernhard, F, Nacht, J, McCann, G 2015, ‘The relevance of a whole-person learning approach to family business education: concepts, evidence, and implications, Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 322-346.

Breton-Miller, I & Miller, D 2015, ‘Learning stewardship in family firms: for family, by family, across the life cycle, Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 386-399.

Lansberg, I & Gersick, K 2015, ‘Educating family: business owners: the fundamental intervention’, Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 400-413.

Trehan, K & Pedler, M 2009, ‘Animating critical action learning: process-based leadership and management development’, Action Learning: Research and Practice, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 35-49.

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