Not just the Bancrofts

Right now, the news reports say that the Murdoch bid to buy Dow Jones will be successful. Some are already musing or agonizing about the changes likely to occur at the Wall Street Journal.

Looking back, are the Bancrofts and their family business unique? Unusual, perhaps, but hardly unique. It’s undoubtedly been a challenging few months for the Bancroft family and the management of Dow Jones. As the New York Times summed it up today: “For a private, reserved clan that had long frowned on confrontation or aggressive involvement in the company’s affairs, it was a long, uncomfortable conflict, played out with the news media attempting to dissect their personalities and rivalries. And for much of that time, shareholders and executives at both companies [Dow Jones and the News Corporation] could do little but watch and wait as the family labored to reach a conclusion.”

Of course, not every family and not every business captures the media’s attention the way that the Bancrofts and Murdochs and their companies do. And few family businesses involve some forty different trusts with ownership interests, as Dow Jones does. But many family businesses treasure the privacy of family members and their interactions, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid conflict completely.

Any family and any business can benefit from facing challenges in a proactive manner. In some situations, conflict over those challenges may be impossible to avoid. Yet, the way those affected deal with the conflict is within their control. When the conflict threatens to do damage to the family or the business, mediation can help those involved deal effectively with difficult conditions and decisions.

Posted in Conflict Resolution in the News, Family Businesses, Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

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