Children from entrepreneurial families would rather start their own business

The survey, which interviewed children from entrepreneurial families across 34 countries, found that that in the UK over 20 per cent of children would become a successor – much higher than the average of 10.4 per cent, but only 3.9 per cent said they would within five years of graduation.

Elsewhere in Europe the figures for Germany and Austria were very similar for students succeeding their parents at some point, 4.2 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively, and taking over within five years of graduation, 11.2 per cent and 12.6 per cent. Only 3.9 per cent of those interviewed in Switzerland would consider doing either.

One possible explanation for the shift in attitudes is that there are now more numerous and attractive options in the global job market. The last few years have seen a decline in succession intentions of 30% among students from universities who participated in the study.

The most popular reasons for not wanting to takeover the family business were aspiring to have a career as an employee, while more than a third want to start a business of their own.

On average, daughters have lower succession intentions than sons with an average of 25 per cent, even if the business is run by their mother. Children who gain work experience in the family business are more likely to succeed, but if this does not happen by a certain point, intentions get weaker.

The research was carried our by HSG’s Center for Family Business and EY. Philipp Sieger, the survey’s project leader, commented: “There is a relatively favorable time for a succession solution. But if a child of an entrepreneur is denied the actual succession for too long, this can be interpreted as a lack of trust, which makes other career options seem more attractive”.

Professor Thomas Zellweger, the study’s co-author, said: “Many children of entrepreneurs want to become entrepreneurially active, but generally not in their parents’ business”.