Corporate Governance of Family Businesses in Croatia
Legal Framework and Open Challenges
The importance of family businesses in the Croatian economy is well known. In this respect, Croatia is part of the larger picture in which family businesses are considered of fundamental importance to the European Union’s economy. The most specific feature that sets Croatian family businesses apart is that they are all relatively young, as they were mostly established in the 1990s. This is due to the socio-economic development of Croatia as a country that was part of the former Yugoslavia. In this regard, although the traditions of certain crafts and products are significantly older, the modern legal vehicles through which such business is conducted, that is, Croatian companies, are only around thirty years old. This fact contributes to the hypothesis that governance issues related to family businesses are an underdeveloped legal area. However, the need to address the specific needs of Croatian businesses is on the rise, as a significant number of the founders are now retiring, and the issue of successful transfer of these businesses has never been more important. The goal of this article is to question whether available legal instruments for enhancing the governance of family businesses from comparative law and practice such as family constitutions and family councils can be applied in Croatian practice as well. To this end, this study analyses the most significant legal forms in which a family business can be established in Croatia: crafts, family farms, and all types of commercial companies (with an emphasis on limited liability and joint-stock companies). Analysis of the Croatian legal framework from the perspective of family businesses will contribute to the comparative discussion regarding the specific legal needs and challenges of such businesses.