Hedi YEZZA, EDC Paris Business School

Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Business
Head of Strategy and Management Department
Head of Strategy and Management Department

Affiliated Researcher ETI (Entrepreneuriat-Territoire-Innovation) IAE Paris-Sorbonne

Title of Thesis: Succession in Family Businesses: The Role of the Successor's Social Skills

Best Thesis and Winner AIREPME Thesis Award (International Association for Research in Entrepreneurship and SMEs)

Testimony of Hedi YEZZA

How did your career path lead you to carry out your PhD within the ETI chair of IAE Paris-Sorbonne?

In parallel to my Master of Research in Entrepreneurship, I worked in a family business as an assistant manager. It was in this context that I became interested in the family business. I realized that there was a management style specific to the family business. The coexistence of the professional and family spheres makes the family business a special form of organisation.


Following my meeting with Didier Chabaud, who was to become my Research Director, my choice was a natural one. I did my PhD thesis on succession in family businesses and more precisely on the role of the social skills of the successor.


There are two forms of entrepreneurship: the creation or takeover of a business. In a family context, this second form mainly concerns succession, i.e. the transfer of the business from one generation to the next. And it is the study of this very particular moment that my thesis in the ETI chair at the IAE Paris-Sorbonne focuses on.

Quel est le sujet précis de votre thèse et en quoi s’intègre-t-elle à la stratégie des entreprises familiales ?

First of all, it is important to note the intersection of three circles in the family business: Ownership or shareholding, the business or business component (i.e. the management of the business) and finally the family. The business owner needs to know how to manage these three dimensions, which can sometimes lead him or her to make decisions that are more emotional than rational given the involvement of family members in the business.


We have introduced social skills in family businesses. These skills allow us to identify the unsaid and non-verbal signals, and then manage them in an appropriate way, respecting the family context and structure.


This new approach enables the successor to gain the trust of the various stakeholders, defuse conflicts and generally manage the business and the family better.

In summary, the results of my research work show that social skills not only have a positive impact on the economic results of the company, but also on the harmony and family atmosphere.

Could you tell us how your research can help family businesses today ?

From a methodological point of view, I carried out a longitudinal study over a period of 4 years by conducting interviews at regular intervals with a panel of managers of family businesses.


A relationship of trust was created between the managers of these family businesses and myself (researcher, PhD student) which enabled us to analyse their daily lives, the issues at stake and possible conflicts in a more precise and intimate way. This allowed us to determine the best solutions and to identify the decision-making levers.


Concretely, the managerial contribution of my thesis concerns the identification, training and development of the social competence of the successor in the family business. In his relations with the shareholders and the family, this future manager thus acquires a new and more harmonious approach in the management and strategic development of the company.



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