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Value Creation in Family Firms

Family businesses are one of the most dominant forms of organization around the world (with roughly 70-90% of all firms being family-influenced). The aim of this course is to study how family firms differ from non-family firms. The focus will thereby be on issues related to leading or managing a family firm.
Course code
EAI613
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
2,5
ECTS
5
Term
HS 2021
Language
Englisch
Lecturers
Prof. Dr. Nadine Kammerlander
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

Family businesses are one of the most dominant forms of organization around the world (with roughly 70-90% of all firms being family-influenced). The aim of this course is to study how family firms differ from non-family firms. The focus will thereby be on issues related to leading or managing a family firm. The course we will focus on how to successfully lead family businesses in the 21st century.

In particular, the course covers the following topics:

1 Introduction and brief overview of family businesses:
o Term definition, meaning, and characteristics of family businesses
o Differences between family businesses and non-family businesses, especially in relation to goals, long-term orientation, structure, and resources
o Theories to explain family firm behavior in general.

2 Leadership in family firms:
o Leadership styles
o Family vs. non-family CEOs
o Employee motivation

3 Transgenerational entrepreneurship in family firms:
o Innovation behavior of family firms
o Adaptation to disruptive changes
o Entrepreneurship across generations

4 Strategic management and governance:
o “Organization” of the family
o Strategic orientation and risk

The in-class sessions will take placeduring the first quarter of the term. Additionally, students will conduct a group consulting project with a family business which will span over the first two quaters/the entire first semester. Each group will choose one specific family firm (preferably from their own network or with the support of the chair) and analyze this company with regards to family firm strengths and weaknesses, growth potential, leadership, transgenerational entrepreneurship, succession, and strategic management/governance.

Individual coaching sessions with the professor during the second quarter will help students to achieve their learning goals and ensure the advancement of the group project. The course will conclude with the students' presentation of their project results and a concluding presentation on "leading the family business."

This course is relevant for all students, who aim to work in their own family business, to work in another family business as a non-family manager, to consult family businesses or to start a family business.

Date Time
Monday, 13.09.2021 11:30 - 15:15
Tuesday, 14.09.2021 15:30 - 17:00
Monday, 20.09.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Thursday, 23.09.2021 08:00 - 09:30
Tuesday, 05.10.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Wednesday, 06.10.2021 08:00 - 11:15
Learning Outcomes
  • Learn about the importance and characteristics of family firms, and basic theories/frameworks to understand family firms
  • Understand the challenges and opportunities of leading family firms, achieving transgenerational entrepreneurship in family firms, and defining appropriate strategic management and governance in family firms.
  • Being able to engage in group work
  • Being able to present and defend findings
  • Practicing the use of selected frameworks, concepts, and tools by applying them to real-life family firm project
  • Acquire consulting experience
  • Prepare for working in a family firm or in a consulting firm (for family firms)

Therefore, students will gain skills in the following areas:

Discipline-specific knowledge and competence

  • Students will possess an intermediate level knowledge in the functional areas of business
  • Students will possess an intermediate level knowledge in the functional areas of economics

Global business environment

  • Students will possess an intermediate level knowledge in the functional areas of international business and economics

Critical thinking and problem solving skills

  • Students will possess an intermediate ability to integrate different perspectives,
  • Students will possess an intermediate ability to implement solutions, identify problems,
  • Students will possess an intermediate ability to structure complexity and focus on main challenges
  • Students will possess an intermediate capacity to prepare written reports

Management specific skills

  • Students will achieve an intermediate integrated perspective of the firm
  • Students will achieve an intermediate ability to formulate strategies

Teamwork and responsible leadership

  • Students will possess an intermediate level of knowledge in the functional areas of leadership and organization
  • Students will possess an intermediate ability to identify ethical problems arising in modern economic and business practices, and judge values/criteria/decisions/outcomes pertaining to them
  • Students will possess an intermediate capacity to incorporate an understanding of social and legal issues in reaching business related decisions
  • Students will possess an intermediate capacity to collaborate within working teams
Articles (mostly from the family business field) will be announced in class. Optional Reading: Announced in class
Lectures and discussions, paper discussions, potential guest talks (tba), group projects in a family business selected by the group, coaching sessions, and presentations
The final grade will be based on an individually written reflection paper and a final group presentation of the project outcome, as follows:

Reflection paper: 30 %

Presentation: 70%

150 (=5 ECTS)
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