Family businesses in Germany and Italy – a comparison

Both countries have a very high proportion of family businesses
Mailand / Italien © Tom Podmore / unsplash
Milan / Italy © tom podmore / unsplash

11 November 2023, Munich. Germany’s Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Prime Minister Georgia Meloni signed a joint action plan in Berlin yesterday. The aim is a more comprehensive cooperation between the two countries in the areas of business, energy, space and defence.

Both countries share a similar economic structure and have a high proportion of family businesses. This was the result of a study commissioned by the Foundation for Family Businesses which was realised by ZEW.

Despite all the similarities, it is particularly striking that the proportion of large family businesses is significantly higher in Germany: while almost 58 per cent of all family businesses in Italy have fewer than ten employees, almost 60 per cent in Germany have more than ten employees.

The most important results:

  • The proportion of family-controlled companies is slightly higher in Italy: 87 per cent in Italy, compared to 78 per cent in Germany.
  • In both Germany and Italy, companies with the legal form of sole proprietorship are almost exclusively family-controlled.
  • Italy’s economy is characterised by a higher percentage of small companies with up to nine employees than Germany.
  • In both countries, 93 per cent of the construction industry consists of family-controlled companies.
  • In mining, energy and water supply, and waste disposal, family-controlled companies have a share of 58 per cent in Germany and 66 per cent in Italy.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on this.

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