Rivalry between Siblings

Rivalry between siblings represents a possible obstruction to the successful development of many family businesses, and it is critical to understand why and how it comes about before looking at some of the ways in which it can be contained and controlled.

Psychologists believe that sibling jealousy is rooted deep in children to crave for the exclusive love of their parents. Underlying this is the child’s concern that if a parent shows love and attention to a sibling, perhaps the sibling is worth more and the child is worth less.

An older brother, already favored in India’s hierarchical society by virtue of age, may be dominant as a child because of size and competence, and is resented by his siblings. Sibling rivalry is normal and, in a family context, can be seen as a useful competitive ingredient in a relationship that stimulates the healthy development of well-adjusted, coping adults. However, rivalry can also exert an adverse influence on how the business is run, coloring management decisions and, if left uncontrolled, potentially paralyzing the organization.

On occasions, often without realizing owners intensify sibling rivalry by fostering a competitive spirit among family members in the business, effectively reinforcing and magnifying the rivalry that already exists. More commonly, yet just as problematical, the family tenet of parents treating their children equally will probably apply to the family businesses, with the result that children own equal shares in the organization and are members of the board, and thus sibling rivalry is locked in place.

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