Dr. Cynthia Waisner is a 2012 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Waisner [Center] at her Dissertation Defense with Dr. Mitchell Kusy, Dissertation Chair [Left], and Dr. Carol Baron, Committee Member [Right].


family business consulting; family enterprise; family firms; family-owned business; multiple case study, organization development, consultant, trust, values, consulting models, leadership, succession, intergenerational change, entrepreneurs

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Interest in family businesses has increased over the last 50 years. Little empirical research, however, has been devoted specifically to the study of family business consulting. Various practitioners have offered their insights regarding approaches and tools, and a few empirical studies have offered the practitioners’ viewpoints regarding the practice area. The purpose of this study was to add to this small body of research by providing a view of family business consulting through the lens of the family business member. The chosen method of inquiry was collective case study, to allow for both contextual understanding and cross-case comparison. A total of nine participants across three cases were involved in the study. Several primary themes emerged from the study. To be considered a family business consultant by family members, a consultant needed to have entered the family business system through the family portal. The work of family business consultants was focused on inter-generational issues. Factors important to a successful consultation included chemistry with the family business leader, trust, values, and the involvement of non-business spouses. Finally, family members identified the maintenance of intact family member relationships as an important component of success in a family business consultation. Themes suggested by this study both supported and extended findings exploring family business consulting from the practitioner's point of view. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center,