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The spouse of a family business executive can play an important – though often “behind the scenes” -- role in the family business. The spouse of the CEO often has considerable influence over the CEO regarding both business and family issues. The spouse of the CEO may also play an active role in maintaining the stability of the family. Spouses of other family members in the family business can also exert considerable influence regarding both business and family issues. If there is not an effective succession plan in-place, the sudden death or disability of the CEO can result in the CEO's spouse suddenly becoming the new CEO.

Impact of the CEO's spouse

The spouse of the CEO in a family business can serve a variety of useful functions such as:
  • maintaining the family legacy
  • focusing on the "family" aspects of the family business
  • Encouraging collaboration (Poza, 2004, p. 37).

Spouse role types

The spouse of the CEO can find themselves playing a variety of "roles" such as: jealous of the business; providing the "glue" which holds the family together; being active in the business -- formally or informally; and role model and supporter of the values of the family (Poza, 2004, p. 37-42).


  • Poza, EJ. (2004). Family Business. South-Western/Thomson Learning.

Further reading and external links

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Categories: Family members in the business