IN the world of the family business, mentoring has a particularly evocative meaning. It conjures up hallowed images of cross-generational collaboration between master and apprentice dating as far back as the medieval guilds. These images are at the very heart of the concept of a family business. Indeed, it is through successful mentoring that the knowledge and expertise accumulated by the seniors in a particular line of work, as well as family traditions and values, get passed to the next generation. This transfer of knowledge from parents to children makes family companies truly unique—it is one of their fundamental competitive advantages in the marketplace.

Developmentally, Davis and Taguiri’s research1 suggests, the “working ...

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