100-Year Family Study 2021-05-19T19:07:00+00:00

100-Year Family Study

How centennial families have preserved their wealth, impact, and connection as a family across generations.

What is a Generative Family?

Generative families have been able to sustain a sense of family connection and profitability in their various businesses/enterprises, across 4 generations, for 100 years.

They uphold their family connection and family enterprise against the tides of dispersion and exponential growth. 

We estimate that only 1% of families worldwide qualify as generative family enterprises

This 1% has tremendous influence as they own a large proportion of global wealth and perform great service to their communities.

100-year family study graph

Our Study:

  • We wanted to look at the most successful family enterprises, those who have been able to overcome the seemingly ubiquitous curse of  “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations”
  • We interviewed over 100 families from more than 20 different countries
  • Our family enterprises ranged from 3 to 14 generations old
  • The families are large and growing
  • 54% of the families we interviewed had a net worth of $1 B or greater

Our purpose was to learn from the best of the best, uncovering the internal secrets of their success.


Social Impact in Hundred-Year Family Businesses: How Family Values Drive Sustainability Through Philanthropy, Impact Investing, and CSR

Published – July 22, 2019

By: Dennis T. Jaffe Ph.D. (Author), Isabelle Lescent-Giles Ph.D. (Author), Jamie Traeger-Muney Ph.D. (Author)

This is the sixth in a series of publications sharing key insights on how Centennial families have preserved their wealth, impact, and connection as a family across generations.

Our team conducted over 100 interviews of both very public and highly private families who, as owners of large successful global family enterprises for more than three generations, have been “stewards of wealth.” We call these families “generative” because they continually add all forms of social, personal, and financial value.

This paper looks at their philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and community investments as expressions of the families’ values and purposes and at how this commitment is transmitted across generations. Unlike previous working papers where we only shared the experience of our “generative” families, in this paper, we more broadly include profiles of other families.

The research for this study also builds upon ongoing confidential work led by Isabelle Lescent-Giles at Hult International Business School with 50 next-generation leaders of large, multigenerational family conglomerates around the world and on in-depth interviews with leading experts and philanthropic families who shared what they have learned about values-driven social impact. These stories shed light on how Centennial (lasting 100 years) families define, practice, and operationalize social impact as philanthropists, industry leaders, social entrepreneurs, and investors.

In addition, we look at how they have successfully balanced tradition and innovation or “roots and wings.” This balancing act enables them to stay true to the values of the founding generation while adopting new priorities and practices in each successive generation. This also enables these families to stay current with the changing social and environmental needs of their community.

Social Impact in Hundred-Yer Family Businesses, Dr Jamie Traeger-Muney

Borrowed from Your Grandchildren: The Evolution of 100-Year Family Enterprises

Published – February 26, 2020

By: Dennis T. Jaffe Ph.D. (Author)

Families share how they have maintained and grown their wealth from generation to generation. 

While creating wealth is a wonderful achievement, business families are also concerned with how their wealth is used to support their values, the lives of their children, and the well-being of the community. Over several generations, families who are successful in growing their wealth have been able to reinvent themselves and their business in the face of significant environmental transformations and internal differences cause by family dynamics. Borrowed from my Grandchildren is a fascinating look at how large, long-lasting business families succeed across generations. 

Offering the collected wisdom of nearly 100 global business families, this insightful book shares the real-life stories of partners in business and wealth management over three or more generations. Families that generate rather than reduce their wealth across generations, known as Generative Families, focus on engaging across generations and develop collaborative governance for both family and business to ensure responsible stewardship from one generation to the next.

Borrowed from my Grandchildren: The Evolution of Stewardship in 100-Year Families is an essential read for family members, non-family executives, family offices, estate planning lawyers, family business consultants, trust officers, philanthropic and foundation advisors, financial advisors, financial planners, CPAs, and other finance professionals.

Borrowed from Your Grandchildren: The Evolution of 100-Year Family Enterprises



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