The Economist has a special report on family dynasties. The primary article begins as follows:
FAMILIES HAVE ALWAYS been at the heart of business. Family companies are among the world’s oldest. The Hoshi Ryokan, an inn in Japan, has been in the same family since 718. Kongo Gumi, a Japanese family construction firm, was founded even earlier, in 578, but went bust in 2006. The Antinori family has been producing wine in Tuscany since 1385 and the Berettas have been making guns since 1526. Family companies played a starring role in the development of capitalism: think of the Barings or the Rothschilds in banking or the Fords and Benzes in carmaking.
Family companies are ideally suited to the early stages of capitalism. They provided two of the most important ingredients of growth, trust and loyalty, in a world where banking and legal institutions were often rudimentary and poor communications made far-flung activities hard to control. It was easier to raise money from kinsmen than from strangers. And it was safer to send a relative than a hired hand to expand the business abroad.
Read full article at Family companies: To have and to hold | The Economist.