Student authentication

Is it the first time you are entering this system?
Use the following link to activate your id and create your password.
»  Create / Recover Password



Learning Objectives

The aim of the "Economics of Business Groups" course, in line with the aim of the Master of Science in Economics and Management, is to prepare students to face and manage the complexity of small, medium and large business groups, to lead them towards the creation of sustainable value for stakeholders and the wider community in which these groups live and operate.

To this end, the course aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Acquire knowledge and understanding of the conditions of equilibrium (economic-financial, social and environmental in their mutual relations) and functioning of a group of companies considered as a whole and of the individual units that are part of it, with the aim of understanding the information value of the consolidated financial statements and the financial statements / separate of the individual economies (parent and controlled);
- Acquire knowledge of the elements that affect the centralization / decentralization of decision-making of the parent company and the decision-making autonomy of the subsidiaries, in order to be able to easily carry out the strategic diagnosis of a business group;
- Acquire knowledge of the legal legislation on groups, to understand its effect on the economy and the sustainability of the group and the individual production units operating in it.

- Know what are the characteristics that allow family businesses to be defined;
- Understand what are the characteristics and problems of family businesses, especially in relation to the interdependence that exists between family, management and ownership;
- Know the tools and practices of human resource management and their impact on business performance;
- Know and understand the need to create human resource management practices consistent with business strategy;
- Know and understand what are the reasons and ways of establishing bundles of human resource management practices;
- Know and Understand the peculiarities of family businesses in the area of human resource management;

- Know what are the characters that allow to delimit the economic boundaries of the business group;
- Understand what are the boundaries of the business group, especially when the links between the holding company and the subsidiaries are not characterized by the presence of shareholdings;
- Know the tools for assessing the balance conditions (economic-financial, social and environmental) of the group through the analysis of the financial statements / consolidated and sustainability;
- Know and understand the conditions of equilibrium (economic-financial, social and environmental) of the group and its subsidiaries;
- Know and understand what are the reasons and methods of establishment of business groups;
- Understand the relationships between the conditions of equilibrium and economy of the subsidiaries and those of the wider group to which they belong;
- Know the legislation on business groups, with particular reference to the legal liability deriving from the management and coordination of the parent company (pursuant to art. 2497 of the Italian Civil Code);
- Understand how the legislation impacts on the economic choices of the business group.

Through the knowledge and understanding acquired the student must be able to develop skills / abilities for:
- find and independently access information on business groups, using corporate websites and those of other organizations (e.g. Borsa Italiana, Consob);
- define the most appropriate corporate structure for a group (e.g. legally separate the group's businesses, or keep them within a single legal structure?) considering the activity carried out by it and the geographical expansion (national, international, multi-domestic);
- evaluate the opportunity to focus on reading the financial statements of the individual units that make up the group or on the consolidated financial statements of the group;
- evaluate the conditions of survival and development (quantitative and qualitative) of the groups;
- identify the variables on which to act for the improvement of the equilibrium conditions (economic-financial, social and environmental) of the group considered as a whole, of the holding company and its subsidiaries;
- apply the ADE matrix (decision-making/economic autonomy) to relate the decision-making autonomy of the subsidiaries with their conditions of economic equilibrium.

Develop autonomous reflections on various issues relating to corporate groups. Have the ability to integrate knowledge and manage complexity, as well as to make judgments based on limited or incomplete information, including reflection on the social and ethical responsibilities of corporate groups related to the application of their knowledge and their judgments. The course approach seeks to link economic aspects to social and environmental ones to foster a constructive attitude towards problems through the acquisition of skills and a problem-solving mentality. The student must therefore be able to choose the approaches and tools necessary for understanding the economy and sustainability of groups and develop the ability to collect and interpret data, as well as to use information sources.

- express themselves, in written and oral form, using a technical language appropriate to the interlocutors and the reference context;
- ability to analyze problems, even complex ones;
- relational skills;
- ability to work in groups, manage stress and conflict situations.

- develop analyses on the issues of business groups;
- keep up to date on the evolution of the groups' legislation and on sustainability issues;
- deepen the issues related to the sustainability of the groups;
- build and develop a method of study and research suitable to allow the deepening of the knowledge gained.




The course is structured in 3 different sections:
I) Introduction to systemic and strategic human resource management (9 lectures by prof. Rocco Palumbo):
a) How HRM practices can help organizations to survive and create value and the role of HR managers
b) The characteristics and the use of fundamentals HRM practices
c) The role of leadership for the purpose of employees’ development and commitment
d) the role, the responsabilities and the tasks of HR manager
II) Introduction to the peculiar traits of family firms (3 lectures by prof. Giulia Flamini):
a) The nature, importance, and uniquenessof the family business
b) Strategic management in family business
d) Innovation and Change in family business
III) Critical application of human resources management practices in Family Firms (6 lectures by prof. Giulia Flamini):
a) HRM in family firms
b) Investigating the effects of professionalization in HRM in family business
c) HRMP configurations in family firms
d) Performance and goals of HRMP configurations in family firms


For the first module (by prof. Rocco Palumbo):
Armstrong, M. (2021). Armstrong’s Handbook of Strategic Human Resource Management. Improve business performance through strategic people management. Kogan Page, New York.
For the second module (by prof. Giulia Flamini): Schuman, A. M., Sage-Hayward, W., & Ransburg, D. (2016). Human resources in the family business: maximizing the power of your people. Springer.


- Schuman, A. M., Sage-Hayward, W., & Ransburg, D. (2016). Human resources in the family business: maximizing the power of your people. Springer. Poza, E. J. (2013). Family business. Cengage Learning.
- Zellweger, T. Managing the Family Business: Theory and Practice, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017: ISBN: 9781783470709.
- Noe, R. A., Hollenbeck, J. R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. M. (2019). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
- Flamini G., & Gnan, L. (2017). A forty years' literature review on HRM in family businesses: re-shaping the research agenda. 77th Annual Meeting of Academy of Management in Atlanta
- Giulia Flamini & Luca Gnan (2019). The Role of Awareness in Designing Human Resources Management Practices in Family Firms: A Configurational Model. Chapter 15 in Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurial Leadership and Competitive Strategy in Family Business edited by José Manuel Saiz-Álvarez and Jesús Manuel Palma-Ruiz. ISBN13:
9781522580126|ISBN10: 1522580123, EISBN13: 9781522580133, DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8012-6.
- Flamini, G., Gnan, L. (2019). Configurations of HRM practices in family firms: goals and organizational performances. 79th Academy of Management (AOM) in Boston.

Teaching methods

Conventional lecture mode (frontal lesson) and interactive (the students will be required participate actively in the class discussions and group work). In-depth lessons recorded by
the professor that link theoretical aspects with practical ones

Exam Rules

The exam is the same for attending and non-attending students and evaluates the overall preparation of the student, the ability to integrate the knowledge of the different parts of the program, the consequentiality of the reasoning, the analytical ability and the autonomy of judgment.
Furthermore, language properties and clarity of presentation are evaluated, in compliance with the Dublin descriptors (1. Knowledge and understanding) 2. Ability to apply knowledge
and understanding; 3. Making judgments; 4. Learning skills; 5: Communication skills.
The exam is an oral exam. The mark obtained at the next exam date cancels the previous mark. The oral exam consists of 3 questions, where the student is asked to discuss and reason
on the various topics covered during the course.
The exam will be assessed according to the following criteria:
Not suitable: important deficiencies and / or inaccuracies in the knowledge and understanding of the topics; limited capacity for analysis and synthesis, frequent generalizations and limited critical and judgment skills, the arguments are presented in an inconsistent way and with inappropriate language;
18-20: just sufficient knowledge and understanding of the topics with possible generalizations and imperfections; sufficient capacity for analysis, synthesis and autonomy of judgment, the topics are frequently exposed in an inconsistent way and with inappropriate / technical language;
21-23: Routine knowledge and understanding of topics; Ability to correct analysis and synthesis with sufficiently coherent logical argument and appropriate / technical language
24-26: Fair knowledge and understanding of the topics; good analysis and synthesis skills with rigorously expressed arguments but with a language that is not always appropriate / technical.
27-29: Complete knowledge and understanding of the topics; remarkable abilities of analysis and synthesis. Good autonomy of judgment. Topics exposed rigorously and with appropriate / technical language
30-30L: Excellent level of knowledge and in-depth understanding of the topics. Excellent skills of analysis, synthesis and autonomy of judgment. Arguments expressed in an original way and with appropriate technical language.