Family firms are usually grounded in the culture of the founding family; and family firm managers usually integrate corporate culture and values into virtually all decisions – either explicitly or implicitly. For them, the Collins and Porras’ Built-to-Last doctrine is often part of their DNA. Their internalization of corporate culture predisposes them to notice and absorb cultural clues presented by owners and managers of target companies that other managers and advisers may miss during the due diligence process.

The risk of depending on this superbly useful due diligence technique is that reliance on this cultural adroitness can mask inadequate diligence in financial and other areas of investigation of the acquisition target. But, truth be told, it is much easier to hire bankers and lawyers than for private equity firms to find cultural translators for their family-controlled targets.