In family-run firms, the generational turnover is one of the most important processes of change, since it is crucial for their survival and improvement over time. Nevertheless, the generational turnover in family-run firms appears to be particularly problematic: there are many businesses that struggle, unable to face and overcome this challenging moment. The aim of the paper is to investigate the generational turnover process analyzing four Italian long-lived firms and their generational turnover processes. Each one of these firms has gone successfully through this process more than once. I adopt a qualitative methodology, specifically in-depth interviews and documents analysis. As research strategy, a case study method with a multiple-case design approach is chosen. By analyzing the empirical data, I first identify recurrences and typical paths, common to all the processes in all the cases. Later, drawing on the classical Simon’s decision-making process, I identify the generational turnover process as composed of (i) three stages, when only a potential successor is present; or (ii) four stages, when there is more than one individual. Then, I highlight some specific aspects of both the cases. Finally, I make some propositions in order to address future research and provide a series of tools and elements to help firms to successfully deal with generational turnovers.
Keywords: Generational turnover, family-run firm, entrepreneurial succession, case study, decision-making process.