Long-Term Thinking in Uncertain Times

12th Campus for Family Business at WHU

The 12th Campus for Family Business took place at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management on October 13, 2017. Once again, the conference attracted family business owners from all over Germany to Vallendar to discuss current topics such as dealing with the digitalization or succession in management. Right at the beginning of the event, Professor Dr. Nadine Kammerlander, the Chaired Professor of Family Business at WHU, addressed the familiar preconceptions about family-run businesses. As she pointed out, despite their reputation for being stolid, family-run enterprises can be extraordinarily innovative, and not just in the founding generation. The factors that are important here include a visionary management style and the right approach to the benefits of digitalization. As Kammerlander advised attendees: “Family business owners have to pass the spirit of the founders along to subsequent generations. This calls for entrepreneurial storytelling that consists of more than just the myth of the founding.” If they want to motivate employees and inspire them for their brand, innovative companies need to make use of all of the milestones of the corporate history in their storytelling. “Founder mythology can paralyze fresh innovations in a company,” the expert warned. In their remarks, Hereditary Princess Dr. Jeanette zu Fürstenberg, founding partner of La Famiglia, and Dr. Ernest-W. Droege, member of the management team at the Droege Group, offered practical insights into their everyday lives as family business owners, and into the opportunities for cooperation between family-run businesses and start-ups.

The conference was organized by the Institute of Family Business at WHU. With a team of 15 scholars and practitioners, the Institute of Family Business studies family-run businesses from a variety of perspectives. Its current research projects, for instance, are concerned with innovation, leadership, succession, and financial aspects of family-run businesses as well as family offices.