The Wendel Family: "Affectio Societatis" (A) - The Story of a French Industrial Dynasty (1704-1976)

Published 01 Nov 1999
Reference 4784
Topic Strategy
Industry Mining & Metals
Region Europe
Summary

The Wendel and CGIP cases tell the story of a business family, the Wendel, over a period of nearly three centuries. The Wendel case (A) describes how the company, founded in 1704, developed over 270 years under the stewardship of the Wendel family, as a major player in the iron and steel industry. It also shows how it overcame a revolution, three wars, and several technical challenges. The case ends in 1976, with the crisis of the French steel industry and the choice faced by Ernest-Antoine Seillière, a representative of the 9th generation, to join the company.

Teaching objectives

The case is written for use in classes on Family Firms with MBA students. Its main objective is to illustrate the role of a family in the development and perpetuation of a business and to identify the differences between a family business and a publicly-owned business. The Wendel case illustrates the family spirit and values as factors of business continuity; how each generation can renew the business and even needs to do so at particular moments to survive and flourish; how a family firm can attract particularly bright family members in spite of unattractive economic situations.

Keywords
  • FAMILY FIRMS
  • FAMILY BUSINESS
  • (FACTORS OF) CONTINUITY
  • GOVERNANCE
  • WENDEL / MARINE-WENDEL
  • CGIP
  • VALEO
  • CROW-CORK & SEAL
  • AR1999
  • RD1099