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Every so often I hear from a reader who is thinking about going to work for a family-owned business. Usually, the note or e-mail from the nonfamily job candidate reads something like this:
"It's a great opportunity. But I've been told that I could be jumping into a snake pit because family businesses are full of conflict and backbiting. The money and the challenge are hard to turn down, so can you suggest how I can keep myself from being cut to ribbons?"
My first response is always to recommend that the reader check the reliability of that description. The generalization that "family businesses are full of conflict" is as meaningless as a statement like …