We argue that the recent governance and professionalization focus in family business research conversations, while helpful in understanding succession, and family businesses in general, needs to be complemented with a theoretical discussion of the multi-dimensional accession process. We contend that this process is multi-dimensional as, unlike in a corporate setting where the incumbent is succeeded by a suitable successor, multi-generational family businesses are more complex and there is potentially a plethora of positions of influence for which actors can compete. We use tournament theory to propose how family actors will act in accession tournaments and propose that the absence of a ‘final’ tournament further distinguishes family from non-family businesses.