Friction #7: When the past comes calling on family businesses

India’s business families, the dynasties and the more humble first gens, have an almost intractable problem. No amount of legal paperwork can keep them from bickering, often bitterly, leading to messy court battles, mud-slinging and destruction of the business. 

So why do these families fight? Having it all, why does almost every business family eventually end up in fractals of itself? And is there an ironclad way families can safeguard their future through elaborate shareholder or ownership agreements or through family constitutions? 

Anecdotal evidence doesn’t seem to support that. Indeed, one of the triggers for many of today’s battles within …


Sundeep Khanna

Sundeep Khanna has, in a career spanning three decades, donned multiple hats across corporate and editorial roles, and is one of the foremost chroniclers of business in India. In his last assignment, he was executive editor of the financial daily Mint; for The Morning Context, he will write on corporate governance in India every fortnight in his newsletter, Friction.