Britain's oldest family businesses: Further insights

Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2013
What are the challenges facing the small and medium-sized businesses of today? We have brought together experts to look at how businesses can survive and what they can learn from history.

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The three-part BBC Four series 'Hidden histories: Britain’s oldest family businesses' looks at three family businesses that have survived for at least three hundred years. Though businesses of this kind are exceptional, they raise some interesting questions about the challenges facing the small and medium-sized businesses of today. In this section, we have brought together a number of experts to look at two related topics:

  • Looking back: what can we learn from business history? Three leading business historians discuss recent research findings and share their thoughts on how key lessons from studying the past can be translated for the benefit of today’s entrepreneurs, business owners, policy makers and members of the public. 
  • Resilience and recovery: what does it take to survive in business? Four leading business and management scholars discuss what their research findings might mean for smaller businesses as they try to deal with external shocks that range from the financial crisis to rioting, extreme weather events, power black-outs and the loss of internet connections. We also present the latest evidence on resilience and recovery from the Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain.

Note: The independent organisation Family Business United (FBU) is another useful resource for anyone involved in running, or working with, family-owned businesses. In October 2013, FBU published a report on Scotland’s Oldest Family Businesses.

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