Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution in Family Businesses

Family conflict is one of the biggest challenges facing those seeking to build a multi-generational family business. “Conflict risk” is more manageable than many other types of risk, yet it is still relatively unusual for families to take steps to manage it, or to seek professional help in doing so – until, of course, things “go critical” and they reach for their litigators.

As we shall see, conflict is an inherent part of the human condition. It is neither good, nor bad. What matters is how people deal with it. Handled well, it can lead to invention and innovation, and to both personal and corporate growth. Handled badly, it can all too easily lead to entrenchment, polarisation, demonisation, even addiction, and ultimately to the destruction of family, fortune and business.

This chapter looks at how families deal with conflict, and suggests what they might do to manage their conflicts well; to keep their conflict circle virtuous.

 

  1. What do we mean by “conflict”?

There are many definitions of conflict in the literature, but one that I find particularly useful in the business family context is that first given by Wilmot and Hocker in 1978:

Conflict is an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals.[1]

In other words, I am in conflict with you if I believe that you and I have incompatible goals, and that your actions will interfere with me achieving mine, and I cannot just accept that.

It is not difficult to predict the likely battlegrounds for business families, for example:

  • siblings competing for their parents’ favours, for entry to the boardroom and, in time, for ownership or control of the company;
  • children pressing their parents to hand over the reins sooner rather than later, while parents, particularly founder parents, are reluctant let go;
  • those running the business expecting their relatives to stay invested whatever the return, while those “investors” may feel their “executive” relations are somewhat overpaying themselves;
  • children pushing for (sometimes being coerced into) management roles for which they are totally ill-suited;
  • professional managers being hired to run the business, but judged on their ability to finesse family politics;
  • not to mention value questions such as “are we a business family or a family business?”, “what is the family – do we include the in-laws?”, “is this a multi-generational business, or are we serial entrepreneurs?”, and so on.

 

  1. It is never “just about the money”

But there is more to it even than that. All conflict has its irrational/emotional component but in families, as in many tribal/international disputes, the emotion behind the conflict often has little to do with the events actually complained about. So, for example:

  • shareholder sibling rivalries often turn out to have their roots in early childhood – “you always got a bigger slice of cake than I did” – however old the siblings are when things finally explode;
  • pushy children may be driven by off-hand comments their parents never gave a second thought to – “one day, my boy, all this will be yours” – or even by an unspoken family tradition of primogeniture;
  • the sister who alleges her brother takes an excessive salary from the business may be angry that, as she sees it, her sacrifices as primary carer for their parents go totally unrecognised;
  • arguments between step-relations very often turn out to be about the (now adult) children’s unresolved issues from their parents’ divorce,

and sometimes of course, these conflicts pass down the generations, “the cause” becoming everything, and the roots of the original falling out lost in family mythology.

I have worked with families where, despite pages of detailed legal argument, there turned out to be no hard, substantive, issues between them at all, and once the soft, emotional, issues were dealt with all the other complaints fell away. I have never, however, seen a case where there were no soft issues at all.

 

  1. An anatomy of conflict

Of course, every case is very different but, before we look at what might be done, it is nevertheless useful to have even a stereotypical view of how conflict can develop.

You think someone stands between you and your goal. If you can just accept that, and let go, the tension passes. If not, and it starts to affect what you say (or do not say) or what you do (or do not do), you are in conflict with your perceived competitor, even if he, or she, remains blissfully unaware of it. And so it begins.

An obvious first step would be to check whether your concern is justified. All trainee mediators are told “the orange story”: two ladies (sometimes, companies) argue over a crate of oranges (a whole crop for companies); they are invited to share it 50:50, but each insists they need all the oranges; in fact one is interested only in producing orange juice, and the other only in the flesh and rind for marmalade – the classic win-win solution, if only the parties can get there.[2]

In fact, you probably just assume you know both what is really eating you, and where the other person is coming from. You feel threatened, so they must have intended to threaten you. You go in “all guns blazing” and, perhaps not surprisingly, they go on the defensive. From their perspective, they did not intend to threaten you, therefore you should not/cannot feel threatened.[3] You both go into broken record mode, neither listening to the other, and emotions keep on rising – a problem in any conflict, but all the more so in the family scenario where emotions always run high and even the briefest phrase, pause or gesture, can carry decades, if not generations, of baggage. For all you may both have started out intending to solve a problem, you have only succeeded in making made a bad situation worse.

You may both just try and get on with your lives, rubbing along as best you can, but any trust between you has now pretty much evaporated, barriers have gone up, and your ability to communicate effectively – the key to solving the problem – is at an all-time low.

You look for support from those around you, each building alliances where you can. When you tell your story, your natural tendency is to exaggerate both your innocence and your hurt, and with it the guilt, as you see it, of the other person. Those closest to you “stand by their man”, agreeing that you have been terribly treated, and that seems somehow to confirm the rightness of your story. So, when you retell it to the next person, you tend to exaggerate still further. Of course, it is no different for them. And so it goes on, as you each become more and more convinced of the rightness of your cause, and increasingly entrenched in your positions. Meanwhile, those around you are feeling forced into one camp or the other, or risking alienating both sides by their neutrality: “You’re either with us, or against us” as someone once said.

Then something happens to change the dynamic: the death or divorce of a senior family member, perhaps, or a takeover bid for the company, although the mere threat, or rumour, of such a change – “did you know Dad has changed his will?”may have just the same effect. Suddenly, both in a state of grief for what was, all the pent up emotion explodes, and you go to war.

Sadly, that just seems to prolong, if not suspend, the grieving process, almost guaranteeing that no-one is in a fit state to make the decisions they must to resolve the issues between them.

At this stage, as Kenneth Cloke puts it:[4]

“Many people fantasise secretly about revenge. Few carry it out. Most hire lawyers instead.”

It is, perhaps, the obvious next step. Where else do people go for help with a problem like this? But “going to law” is an escalation of enormous proportions, and likely to be seen as such by all parties, particularly in those families that have traditionally settled their differences in private.

This is the point at which direct communication between the principal actors typically comes to and end. Family gatherings for important social and cultural events may be suspended, and younger generations are often discouraged – if not forbidden – from seeing each other. Where the principals are both active in the management of the business, the effect on morale throughout the business can be catastrophic and, usually, something will have to give.

Drastic though that is, the involvement of lawyers can have an equally fundamental impact on the conflict. Not surprisingly, they tend to reframe it in terms that they understand and can deal with. What was “a problem with my [expletive deleted] cousin” becomes “a claim under Section 23(2)(b) of the 2006 Act”, or whatever it might be.

The whole conversation becomes focused on legal rights and obligations. The lawyer’s client becomes “the claimant”, an innocent victim, her cousin, forever now “the defendant” or “the other side”, a wrongdoer, perhaps even a perpetrator. Classic demonisation of the enemy, which reinforces still further the claimant’s sense that this was all her cousin’s fault, and it is he who must put things right.

Instructing lawyers also introduces new dynamics – those between the lawyers and their clients, and those between the lawyers themselves – into the equation. The lawyers too have interests: earning fees, managing risk, and so on, all of which inevitably impact the way they manage their cases. Any advice on the merits – the likelihood of success in court – inevitably depends on the information available on which to base it; the most information will be available after disclosure/discovery and there is a tendency therefore for negotiations to be deferred until that point in the process; unfortunately, in the meantime, the principals become increasingly polarised and entrenched as they each hone and rehearse statements supporting their positions in law, and the prospects of a resolution that addresses the original issues between them recedes still further.

The lawyer can also become another constituent of the client, another gallery to whom the client feels obliged to play. I mediated one case where the single biggest stumbling block to settlement was one party’s desperate desire not to disappoint their lawyer by accepting “too low an offer”.

Sadly, I have also mediated cases where the major obstacle was that one party, typically the youngest child in the family (and usually by many years) had never felt so important before in his life. He said “jump” and his many lawyers – and to a degree even his older siblings – said “how high?” He saw any settlement as ending that, which he had no intention of doing.

By this point, what brings people to the table is the uncertainty of trial (one recently retired English High Court Judge has put the chances of winning an “absolute no lose case” at no more than 70%); the fact that the costs are likely now out of all proportion to the amounts allegedly in dispute; and the risk (in England and Wales at least) of being ordered to pay the other parties’ costs if they refuse. Mediation can be very successful in these circumstances, but it does then tend to focus on settling the legal claim, rather than addressing the underlying issues which often remain unspoken, like a volcano lying dormant … until the next eruption.

 

  1. Contain if necessary; resolve if possible; best of all prevent[5]

The challenge then, if I may paraphrase William Ury, is to find ways of preventing outbreaks of destructive conflict, and of containing, and hopefully resolving, those that do break out.

If most disputes flow from miscommunication, unmet expectation, disappointment and frustration,[6] the answer surely lies in engagement, dialogue and collaboration; in a willingness to be first curious (ie, to accept that you may not have all the answers) and then confused (when you begin to learn what answers others might have).[7]

If you do think someone stands between you and your goals, a good starting point is to check what your goals really are. Do you really want to sell your shares in the family company, or do you just want your income to be independent of your cousins who control the board? And why is that independence important to you? Perhaps you have some other project you are desperate to pursue and which might add value to the family business if it was encouraged in the right way?

Is it actually about the income? Or is it about your relationship with your cousins? Is it about your self-image, the fact that you have the name, but are not involved with the business? Or, do you just need what you see as a fair process through which all these things can be discussed? Quite possibly, a combination of all four.

And what of your cousins’ goals. Try and put yourself in their shoes. How do they see things? They may not feel comfortable with what they see as a threat to their authority in the business. They may be fearful of having to lay staff off if you force through a sale of your shares, and they are unable to refinance. Or they may just feel you are taking advantage of difficult times to bully them into doing what you want, regardless of the consequences for others. In fact, they will probably each see things differently from one another, and are quite likely never to have discussed things between them in this way.

With all this in mind, now is the time to have the conversation with your cousins, not with a view to persuading them you are right, but with a view to understanding how they really do see things. Not because their views take precedence over yours, but because you want them to do something they are not doing now, and you are unlikely to be able to change their minds without first knowing what is in them[8]. You may also find that if you approach the conversation as an active and effective listener, your cousins’ approach is likely to change considerably. We all need to feel heard, and are much more amenable to the concerns of others once we do.

All this is, of course, much easier said than done, particularly where emotions are already running high. Over the longer term, these are skills that can be learned, like any other. In the shorter term, why not consider engaging a skilled, neutral, third party to mediate the conversation? After all, if you had a tax problem, you would soon phone your accountant, and you were very close to calling your lawyer anyway, so why not speak with a professional facilitator?

 

  1. Good governance and effective conflict management

Experience shows that those who agree when things are going well how they will deal with any differences that may arise between them in future stand a much better chance of keeping their conflict circle virtuous. Good governance is crucial to effective conflict management; equally, good conflict management is a fundamental part of effective governance.

There are many sound models for governance available. These range from the use of family elders, non-executive directors, non-family trustees and protectors, and so on, through to family councils and family charters/constitutions.[9] All of these models can be extremely effective but, to give them – and, in particular, their conflict management provisions – the best possible chance of success, they do need to be tailored to the needs of the family business concerned; all other things being equal, the bespoke solution will always outperform “one size fits all”.

Designing such a system requires a great deal of information about the family business system:[10]

  • Who is involved, what are their various roles in both the family and the business? And what are the relationships, and the dynamics, between them?[11]
  • What do they tend to fall out about? What are their various “hot buttons”?
  • Why do they think this happens?
  • When does it tend to happen, and how often?
  • What processes (formal or informal) exist for dealing with these situations?
  • Are there any family myths about past conflicts and how they played out? Are there any family traditions about dealing with conflict?
  • How do those involved prefer to deal with conflict? Who tends to walk away? Who just sulks? Who just cannot keep quiet? Who sees everything as a competition? Who wants everyone to pull together? And who are the bridge builders?
  • How happy are they each with the way things tend to work out. If they are not, what would they need to be different to make them happy?
  • And what does all this cost, not just in terms of money, but in terms of wear and tear on individuals, and their relationships, on morale in family and business, and in missed opportunities?

Of course, it is often the case that the head of the family thinks there have rarely been any conflicts in the family worth the name, or that there was a huge fight a long time ago but they have all learned their lesson since and any differences now are resolved on an entirely consensual basis. Heads may nod in an open family meeting, but in private, with a trusted neutral, where people feel free to speak the unspeakable, other views often emerge.

If it is to work, whatever system emerges really must be seen by everyone to serve them all. Otherwise, the danger is that people sign up, but do not actually buy into the deal. They may be afraid of some sort of reprisal if the do not fall in line. They may interpret their parents’ unhappiness with dissent as meaning they are “a bad son”. Or they may just be unable to overcome a traditional/cultural belief in putting (the appearance of) family unity first. Either way, they have no faith in the “new deal”, so they never invoke its terms. The dominant individuals take that as assent, and carry on as before – until something happens to trigger the explosion. In many ways, this is the worst of problems, because everyone has convinced themselves they have fixed the problem, so the explosion, when it comes, is all the worse.

It is absolutely crucial, therefore, that both the process of developing the conflict management system, and the system itself, exhibit fair process behaviours,[12] that is to say, they:

  • give all stakeholders the opportunity to speak – to tell their story – and be heard, and create the perception that each can make a difference to the outcome;
  • offer timely and accurate information to all concerned about family and business issues;
  • apply rules in the same way to all concerned;
  • require all concerned to be willing to make adjustments to their arrangements based on new information or changing situations; and
  • require all concerned to practice fair process in all their dealings with each other.

The possible outcomes of this process are as varied as the families who start down the road, and will tend to range in complexity with the stage the business has reached. Is it an owner-managed company, still run by its founder, or has it evolved into a sibling partnership, or a cousin consortium?[13] Is it a single family business or a multi-family business? Have divorces intervened to complicate matters with first family/second family dynamics? And so on.

In smaller or simpler situations, it may be that all differences of opinion can be aired at a family meeting, albeit one that might be facilitated by a neutral third party. At the other end of the scale, perceived grievances may have to be taken to a particular person in the first instance, perhaps with capital/resource, power/control, employment and culture/value issues being referred to different individuals. Those individuals may be able to undertake informal mediation between those in conflict, or they may have power to bring in a neutral third party to do so. If that fails to resolve matters, there may be a referral to the company’s board, or to a family council, or even to a full family meeting, again typically facilitated by an outsider. Should even that fail, there may be a formal “set piece” mediation as a last best hope for peace before parties are free to take an adversarial stance and delegate the decision over their futures to judge or arbitrator.

There is also the issue of what sanctions should apply to those who fail to follow the rules. Many will say that the courts will not entertain a claim until the earlier processes have been exhausted and, for them, that is enough, but I have also seen it suggested that those in default should cease to benefit from family trusts that are the direct owners of the business and the custodians of the family wealth.

Finally, one might hope that there would be a moratorium on commencing proceedings while the agreed processes are followed through, as well perhaps as a moratorium on lobbying/alliance building within the family business and, for those with a higher public profile, press briefings, leaks etc. Some families, however, particularly those with a tradition of communicating through the media, may feel that goes too far. The role of the process designer is to help the stakeholders to identify options, but it must always be the stakeholders’ choice as to which option (if any) they adopt.

Having said all that, a good conflict management system should provide more than mere process.

Ideally, having identified the stakeholders’ hot buttons, and their preferred approaches to conflict, it should be able to provide early warning of issues that are likely to “go critical”, so that they can be dealt with before they get out of hand; and perhaps even by a different process than less sensitive issues.

Perhaps even more importantly, however, it should provide the resources and motivation needed to ensure all concerned will use the process.[14] If some feel they do not have the skills to use the process well – and are unlikely therefore to use it – they should be given the necessary training. If they need support in using it, they should be provided with coaching. If the process calls for facilitators or mediators, or is sufficiently complex to require ongoing administration, everyone must be comfortable that all that is needed will be provided on a timely basis. There is also, of course, the question of how all this will be paid for. Can funds be set aside just for the purpose? If so, who will administer them? Who can call on them? When? And how? Perhaps needless to say, if funding is dependent on some only of the stakeholders, and they are likely to be key players in any dispute, there is a fair chance that others will see that funding becoming conditional on some particular outcome, and that will affect how they view the whole process.

 

  1. Dealing with existing conflicts

Almost by definition, most family conflicts will not take place within the confines of such processes. Yet there is still much that can be done to prevent, and hopefully to reverse, entrenchment and escalation.

The key is to be very goal oriented. Focus on fixing the problem, rather than on settling a legal claim; and, as we have already discussed, that means being very sure what it is you are trying to achieve, and why; how much of that you can achieve without any input from those you are in conflict with, and what exactly it is you need them to do for you to achieve your goal.

Be very clear also what your best, and worst, alternatives are to a negotiated agreement.[15] Your worst may be to walk away, and to accept what is. Or it may actually be to litigate and lose: spending a fortune on lawyers, and then having to pick up the other side’s bill too; spending months, possibly years, committed to a process that never has certainty; enduring the wear and tear and the missed opportunities; and very possibly, all the while watching the family business fail because those who should be running it are too intent on fighting one another. Your best alternative may be to litigate and win. The costs situation will be very different – at least it will if you can actually get yours back from the other side – but otherwise the experience may be very much the same. If litigation is both your best and worst option, consider very carefully the respective chances of each coming to pass.[16]

Before you engage, try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How do they see things, not just in terms of the substantive issues, but also in terms of the communications between you? You know what you meant to say but, when you try to adopt the other person’s perspective, what do think the message they received was? What was its impact on them? Why do you think they have not responded positively to any offers you have made? Would those offers go any way towards meeting their objectives as you now understand them? If not, why would you expect them to say “yes”? Would saying “yes” cause them to lose power, or standing, with some important constituency? Perhaps they think that something better might come along, and they can always change their mind later; that saying no keeps their options open? Perhaps they do not realise that this is a fading opportunity?[17]

Think also about who else has a stake in the outcome of this conflict, whether directly or indirectly. That is very often a much larger group than would be party to any legal proceedings, yet all may play a useful – perhaps critical – role in bringing about a durable resolution. What are the principal actors’ constituencies, the galleries they play to, the people whose opinions matter to them? “Face” plays an enormous role in business family conflicts and particularly in those that have become intractable, perhaps even the stuff of family legend, and it needs to be dealt with.

And what other “centres of influence” are there; people with no stake in the outcome but who, through their relationships with a particular person, or perhaps through their standing in a particular community, might influence a key player, not necessarily in relation to the substance of the dispute, but at least to come to the table.

Take responsibility for fixing the problem. Most people need to feel heard before they can hear what anyone else is saying to them. If you are going to make progress, someone has to break that impasse and there are considerable benefits from being the person who does. For one thing, you are likely to learn where the other person is really coming from, what is most important to them, what they need to be able to draw a line under the conflict and move on. For another, you may well draw them into a state where they not only want to understand where you are coming from, but are much more minded to work with you to solve your shared problem. And to those who say to me “We’ve done all we can. The ball’s in their court now”, I say “Why are you giving them the choice of whether you solve the problem or go to war. Don’t you want a say in that?” That is not to say that they should bid against themselves, but rather that they should redouble their efforts to understand why what has been proposed does not work for the others involved.

None of which is to say that this is an easy, or a speedy, option. If you take this route, it will take time and persistence. You will likely hear things that you do not want to hear, and just as likely hear them expressed in ways that you find offensive. So too may everyone else involved, but it is generally only through this that the most fundamental issues between you will get on the table, and if they do not get on the table they will never get resolved.

Given the strength of feeling that is likely to be involved on all sides, particularly where a conflict has become intractable, this is a process that generally requires skilled facilitation; it needs to be mediated. The mediator can provide an environment in which all parties feel comfortable telling their stories – speaking the unspeakable, if you will. If necessary he can work with them confidentially, in private, coaching them how best to do that, to make sure that all that needs to be said, is said. He can also bridge the communication gap between the parties, making sure the message sent by one really is the message received by the other. When the time is right, he can bring their focus from past to present and, hopefully, get them working together on where they go next. And when the principals’ energy and commitment flags, he can keep things moving forward.

 

  1. When you have to park the tanks on the lawn

Of course, it would be naïve to suggest that all business family conflicts can be resolved without litigation; sometimes it may be necessary to “park the tanks on the lawn”. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss the strategy and tactics of such litigation, let alone the procedures involved. It is, however, worthwhile trying to put litigation in a broader conflict resolution, problem solving, context.

As I have already noted, the outbreak of litigation generally marks the end of direct communication between the parties, at least about the issues in dispute between them. Typically, there will be no negotiations between the lawyers until each side has set out its case in come detail, and often not until after disclosure/discovery and any interrogatories have been completed.

Understandable as that might be, I do find it rather strange. If one looks at international conflict, for example, talks virtually never stop. Whatever preparations are being made for war, the diplomats stay hard at work to avert it. When diplomatic relations are broken off, talks generally continue through the good offices of other countries, or through agencies such as the UN. Even when things are at their darkest, the rhetoric at its highest, and some “will never sit down with the men of violence”, somewhere behind closed doors and far from the cameras, someone will be working to try and get the parties to engage and, once engaged, to build a dialogue.

The stakes may be less in the typical business family conflict (although it may not seem that way to those involved), so why take such a different approach? In my experience, whilst it is as yet by no means commonplace, involving a mediator at as early a stage as possible and on an ongoing basis, rather than just for the stereotypical “one day, last best hope for peace” set-piece mediation in the run up to trial has a great deal to recommend it.

That set-piece model comes from the world of commercial litigation, and is used for business family disputes partly because they are litigated under the same procedural rules and partly because the most of the available mediators are commercial mediators. It is a highly successful model, yet I believe it can be improved upon in relation to family conflicts generally and business family conflicts in particular.

These conflicts are almost always multi-party, often with shifting alliances between the parties. Numbers of those parties may be elderly, and many will not be business people. Some will find even a one hour meeting in a strange setting stressful. To bring them to a setting famed for running into the small hours of tomorrow does not, in my view, create the best chance of a durable resolution. The “pressure cooker effect” has its uses, but sometimes the pressure can be too much.

Because of the level of emotion, the effects of family myths and legends, and so on, many family members really do need to be able to tell their own story, in their own words, and in their own time, before they are going to be ready to draw a line under the past and move on. Mediation is the only form of dispute resolution that really allows that, but it does take time even when they are prepared to do so in the presence of other parties. Very often it is something that has to be done first in private session and only later, perhaps after some coaching, can the parties come together and share their stories in a productive way. All this takes time and, with multiple parties, there may simply not be time in one day to do what is necessary. Either the storytelling is curtailed, or the parties spend most of the day in their own rooms wondering what on earth is happening. Either can be extremely counterproductive.

It is far better in many cases for the mediation to be an ongoing process, with the mediator free to meet with each of the parties at a time, and in a place, where they feel comfortable. He can flush out the parties’ interests, their underlying wants and needs, and identify the soft issues that may be preventing them from resolving things between them. He can also identify the hard issues that can only be resolved by negotiation or by litigation, so that the lawyers can then focus on those issues. The mediator can also come in and out of the process as needed, to break the log jams along the way, perhaps over the provision of documents or information, or fresh outbreaks of high emotion following some uncomfortable disclosure, or an impasse in negotiations.

At the end of the day, if there is still need of a last best chance for peace meeting, he can mediate that in the usual way, but with the focus now almost entirely on the negotiation phase, and on the mediator testing the reality of the parties’ positions (what I like to call “speaking truth to power”) so that they can each make a fully informed decision as to whether the best deal they can negotiate is good enough, or whether they prefer the costs, and risks, of a trial.

And just a few final words for those who would choose the latter:

  • it is highly unlikely, in my experience, that sitting through a trial will bring any party to a realisation that the other was right; more likely that the loser will come to see that the judge too was wrong;
  • the objective truth (if indeed such a thing can ever be known to mere mortals) will not emerge: the judge will simply determine what, on the balance of probabilities, and on the basis of the evidence presented to him on the day, he thinks most likely happened; and
  • the judge’s order is unlikely meet any party’s needs, unless those needs are no more than to have their rights as set down in law which, in my experience, is rarely the case.

 

[1] WH Wilmot and JL Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 1st edition (1978) – but see now 7th edition (2007) – McGraw Hill.

[2] R Fisher and W Ury, Getting to Yes: negotiating an agreement without giving in, 2nd edition (1991), Business Books Ltd.

[3] D Stone, B Patton and S Heen, Difficult Conversations: how to discuss what matters most, 1st edition (1999), Penguin Books.

[4] K Cloke, Mediating Dangerously: the frontiers of conflict resolution, 1st edition (2001), Jossey-Bass.

[5] W Ury, The Third Side: why we fight and how we can stop, 2nd edition (2000), Penguin Books.

[6] E Carroll and K Mackie, International Mediation – the art of business diplomacy, 1st edition (2000), Kluwer Law International.

[7] R Ready and K Burton, Neuro-linguistic Programming for Dummies, 1st edition (2004), John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

[8] R Fisher, E Kopelman and AK Schneider, Beyond Machiavelli: tools for coping with conflict, 1st edition (1994), Harvard University Press.

[9] See the earlier chapter in this publication on “Governance and management”.

[10] WL Ury, JB Brett and SB Goldberg, Getting Disputes Resolved: designing systems to cut the costs of conflict, 1st paperback edition (1993), PON Books.

[11] It may be useful to plot this information on a genogram. See M McGoldrick, R Gerson and S Petry, Genograms: assessment and intervention, 3rd edition (2008), WW Norton & Co Inc.

[12] MFR Kets de Vries and RS Carlock with E Florent-Treacy, Family Business on the Couch: a psychological perspective, 1st edition (2007), John Wiley & Sons Inc.

[13] P Leach, Family Business: the essentials, 1st edition (2007), Profile Books Ltd.

[14] Getting Disputes Resolved, see note 10 above.

[15] Getting to Yes, note 2 above.

[16] See, for example, D Chalk, Risk Assessment in Litigation: conditional fee arrangements, insurance and funding, 1st edition (2001), Tottel Publishing.

[17] Beyond Machiavelli, see note 3.

First published in I Macdonald and J Sutton (Eds), Business Families and Family Businesses: The STEP Handbook for Advisers, 1st Edition (2009), Globe Business Publishing Limited, and reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.

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