Family businesses in Germany and Italy

On the significance of the company type in comparison with with selected European countries

More similarities than differences

Family businesses in other European countries face the same challenges with regard to the Brussels requirements as German family businesses. The Family Business Foundation is therefore taking a closer look at European family businesses. In the study “Family Businesses in Germany and Italy”, ZEW researched the fact that Italy and Germany have a very similar economic structure: There is a lot of manufacturing, often export-oriented.

In Italy (according to the ZEW definition) 87 per cent of all companies are family businesses, while in Germany that figure is 78 per cent. They account for 56 per cent of employment in Italy and 42 per cent in Germany.

Of the companies with five to nine employees in Italy, 92 per cent are family-run, compared to 86 per cent in Germany. In the construction industry in particular, 93 per cent of companies in both Italy and Germany are family-run.

However, Italian family businesses are smaller. Almost 58 per cent of family-controlled companies based in Italy have fewer than ten employees, compared to roughly 40 per cent in Germany. Germany’s strength lies in its large family businesses, the hidden champions.

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