Business must go on: 175 years of an Olive Oil Business beyond Firms and Families

Abstract: As opposed to most literature on the history of family firms, this article focuses on the continuance of business –products, services, markets– which is not the same as the longevity of the firm, understood as the maintenance of ownership, control or management, or of the business family, with its kinship connections, succession of generations, etc. The article aims at demonstrating how a business can be perpetuated regardless of firms or owning families. For this purpose, it studies the case of an olive oil business related to several families and companies (most of them family firms) from 1857 to the present day. The history of this olive oil business explains how it persisted throughout the years with its factories, products and trademarks being transferred from firm to firm and from owner to owner. The work also underlines how, in this process, each new firm and each new owner claimed the accumulated heritage as their own. The article insists on the continuation of the business activity and highlights the relevance of studying, not only companies and owning families, but the businesses they develop.