What an we learn about family business conflict from House of Gucci?
On a recent trans-Atlantic flight, I had the pleasure of watching Lady Gaga chew the scenery in House of Gucci. Lady Gaga plays Patrizia, a woman of modest means who marries into the Gucci family. The Gucci business is struggling, with disinterested or untalented family members in key positions. Patrizia sees that difficult personnel and strategic decisions must be made for the business to be turned around. She begins interfering in the company's operations and schemes to obtain control. When her husband repudiates her efforts, she ultimately has him killed.
While family business disputes do not usually lead to murder, they can lead to persistent conflict and alienation among family members. Often, family members such as Patrizia may not be employees or owners and have any legal right to participate in business decisions, Nevertheless, as a practical matter, they have a financial interest in the business' fortunes. Moreover, as outsiders, their perspective may not be as influenced by family loyalties, and they may have a more objective and realistic view of the situation. When mediators are retained to assist families in such situations, one of the first issues for consideration is who should be included in the process.