Family businesses, which have been instrumental in the industrialization of most countries, remain an important dimension of modern economies world-wide. Yet analyses of international differences in Western micro- and macro-economic performance, since the late 19th century, have usually been focused upon the rise and capabilities of the American-style business corporation. In this context, whilst family business has not been without champions, these firms were often dismissed as inferior alternatives to mangerial capitalism and the source of economic decline. As a result they have received, until comparatively recently, less attention than they deserve. This collection of essays is not confined to the discussion of Western firms. Instead contributions cover their role, capabilities and performance on four continents and include the work of leading institutional and development economists and sociologists as well as business and economic historians.