The Market Basket Standoff: WPI Business Professor Weighs In On Family Business Drama

August 28, 2014
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During the summer of 2014, the ongoing family feud over the Market Basket supermarket chain captured the attention of residents throughout New England and beyond. Customers, workers, suppliers, and others watched, waited, and in many cases protested, as the Demoulas family attempted to resolve their conflicts and restore a beloved supermarket chain

One person who well understands the complications arising from family business struggles is WPI business professor Frank Hoy, PhD, Paul R. Beswick Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Hoy, whose research concentrations include family business, entrepreneurship and economic development, franchising, and technology entrepreneurship, offered his insight on the short- and long-term repercussions of the standoff in a number of recent media interviews.

Family Businesses: Case Studies in Success

 

Hoy discussed everything from the influence of worker protests and customer boycotts on the intense month-long standoff to the unique nature of problems faced by family businesses. He also spoke about how the close-knit culture created at Market Basket by Arthur T. Demoulas affected customer loyalty and heightened the feud.

Speaking to Fox 25 News, Hoy said, "There’s a special culture here [at Market Basket]. This is a company that’s accomplished great things over two generations. Many people who joined the chain, they feel that they’ve joined a family and they’re part of it. When the change was made, if there were valid reasons, they should have brought everyone around the dinner table and talked about it."

He also warned that no matter how the company resolved the stalemate, they would likely face substantial issues in trying get back on track, telling the Lowell Sun, "If you're Arthur T., you say 'I can't just run the company the way I did before—I'd be surprised if (debt) didn't have a significant burden."

Hoy, who also serves as Director of the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Robert A. Foisie School of Business, holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Texas at El Paso, an MBA from the University of North Texas, and a PhD in management from Texas A&M University. Before coming to WPI he worked as a faculty member at University of Georgia, Georgia State, and University of Texas at El Paso. Among his many accomplishments, he served as director of the Georgia Small Business Development Center and spent five years as chair of the Central European Small Business Enterprise Development Commission, created by Congress to work with the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to establish networks of small business assistance centers.

The author or co-author of numerous books, including Entrepreneurial Family Firms (2010) and Small Business Management (2012), Hoy’s research and educational activities have been funded by more than $15 million in awards and contracts. He is a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute, the International Council for Small Business, the International Family Enterprise Research Academy, and the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

In the Media

NPR Aug. 29, 2014 Market Basket Workers Win Return of Supermarket’s Former President
Bloston Globe Aug. 25, 2014 No accord in Market Basket discussions
NECN Aug. 25, 2014 Frank Hoy discusses Market Basket issues
WBUR Aug. 26, 2014 WPI’s Frank Hoy discusses Market Basket issues
Boston Herald Aug. 17, 2014 Market Basket customers turn out for Artie T.
Fox TV Aug. 13 , 2014 Business professor discusses Friday deadline for protesting Market Basket employees
The Sun Aug. 26, 2014 Beat goes on for contentious Market Basket maneuvering

Aug. 8, 2014 As Market Basket board weighs offers, analysts say time is running out for chain