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The Large Family Firm in Twentieth-Century France EMMANUEL CHADEAU

The historiography of the French family firm focuses primarily on its role in the so-called Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century and in the making of modern society. In France, as in Britain, family firms were normally assumed to be small or medium sized. A source of prosperity and dynamism in the industrial revolution, such firms have, nonetheless, generally been associated with slow growth and economic decline. As a result, until recently they have attracted little scholarly attention. 1 It was, however, the economic difficulties encountered by large-scale firms in the 1980s that rekindled interest in entrepreneurship and the business strategies of small-scale firms in both Britain and France. Although there has been substantial research into the niche market strategies of the small family firm, the strategies of large French family firms in the twentieth century remain the subject of debate.2