Family Business Management

Lecturer: Prof. Alfredo De Massis
Degree: Master in Economics and Management @ Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
Semester: 2nd

Educational objectives

The course refers to the typical educational activities and belongs to the scientific area of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. However, the study of family business is naturally multidisciplinary, drawing on a wide range of management disciplines.
Family businesses are the most prevalent form of business organization globally. Family involvement causes family businesses to have unique organisational goals, structures and resources that eventually create distinctive management challenges for owners and managers. The family is an important source of competitive advantage for many firms, on the other hand it may cause seriousdysfunctions in the business. For these reasons, family businesses require distinctive strategies and managerial practices in order to achieve success.
What is more, international figures show that only a marginal number of family enterprises survive generational transitions. How can family enterprises achieve a match between internal organizational capabilities and external environmental conditions that facilitates improved performance, potentially across generations?
This course provides students with theoretical frameworks and practical tools to build an enlightened understanding of how to work entrepreneurially and professionally, in and with family firms, and manage the unique challenges and dilemmas faced by family enterprises effectively. Topics covered include family business governance, strategic management, family-driven innovation and entrepreneurial management, leadership succession, family-centered goals and goal setting processes, lifecycles and temporal family dynamics, professionalization and stakeholder management.
This course will be beneficial to those students who are members of a family with established business interests, will likely find themselves working for a family-owned firm, and/or might be associated with such organizations in a professional capacity through such roles as consultant, accountant, lawyer, banker or even researcher. Course lectures include guest lectures from local, national and international family business leaders, consultants and experts, consistent with the practice-oriented nature of this course and the goal of the Unibz Centre for Family Business Management to foster interactions and connections between the students and the surrounding business and entrepreneurial community.

Topics covered

  • Introduction to family enterprises: resources and organizational goals
  • Conceptual models, types and heterogeneity of family enterprises
  • Managing leadership succession in family enterprises
  • Innovation and technology management in family enterprises
  • Managing agency and trust relationships in the family enterprise
  • Professionalization, growth and family business governance
  • Noneconomic goals and performance in family enterprises
  • Managing family firms’ stakeholders for longevity
  • Guest lectures from family business leaders, consultants and experts