An Analysis of the Effects of Unresolved Conflict on Small Family Businesses

by Timothy Figley
June 4th, 2022

Unresolved conflict can create a painful divide among families, organizations, and nations. Although all organizations can experience unresolved conflict at times, small family businesses have complex and unique challenges that other enterprises do not have. Relationships with the family outside of business could creep in and negatively affect the everyday work environment and overflow to negatively affect home life. This study investigates the question, How does family ownership affect the potential for conflict resolution and trust-building in a small family business?

This case study addresses the needs of one small family-owned business, Orange Consulting Solutions. Interviews, surveys, and focus groups from the business members of Orange Consulting Solutions comprised the qualitative methodology. During the research, deeper issues and conflicts emerged. A power struggle surfaced between a younger family member and the founding family member. Results indicate that family dynamics can impact the ability to resolve conflict among business members. Establishing trust is the key variable to business members resolving conflict. This data then informed mediation, training, and ongoing team-building decisions to build trust and resolve conflicts among team members.