Professionalization and management succession represent relevant research topics in family business. Our main aim is to highlight the importance of professionalization in positively supporting a management succession process in family firms (FFs), by strengthening and standardizing the processes of strategy formulation, implementation and control, with the goal of achieving long-run value creation and guaranteeing the survival of the firm. We have carried out an explanatory single case study, which is quite representative for this research topic. Relying on Simons’ levers of control framework (1995, 2000) and on the work performed by Acquaah (2013), we explain how the entrance of professional managers and the adoption of Diagnostic Control Systems (DCSs) and Interactive Control Systems (ICSs) impact FFs’ strategy formulation, implementation and control, favouring the management succession process. The importance of the professionalization phenomenon as a tool to positively support management succession emerges. Formal Performance Management Systems (PMSs) have several positive effects on management succession. In particular, the Management Control System (MCS) contributes to the emersion of new opportunities and creativeness within the business and makes it possible to capture strategic initiatives that arise from the bottom of the structure.
Keywords: Family business, management succession, generational handover, professionalization, Management Control Systems Control Systems.