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Learning Objectives

LEARNING OUTCOMES: The course explores and analyses the challenges of the continuity of family businesses and their best management practices. The focus of the course is on generating pragmatic, practice-oriented management, governance, finance and family leadership skills.
Much attention is paid to the assessment of family businesses and their growth options in order to provide a path to analyze how family ownership, management and control affect their outcomes and how more value can be created and secured across generations.

KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING: At the end of the course the students will know:
- The unique assets and vulnerabilities of family businesses;
- The role of the CEO in governance, management and power transfer;
- The relationship between the role of the board of directors, family council and senior management in providing an effective contribution to the continuity of the business;
- The key dynamics of the family;
- How important it is for families to professionally and collectively manage the created wealth

APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING: One of the expected results is the full involvement of the students in the lectures of the course and, therefore, in the learning process.
Guided by the objective of encouraging the learning of the whole class (and not just of the individual student), it is required to all students:
1) to prepare the assigned cases before the lesson;
2) to prepare a group PowerPoint presentation on the cases, based on the specific assignment;
3) Reading the assigned case studies before each lesson, so that each student can participate in the group work and discussions undertaken in the classroom.

MAKING JUDGEMENTS: At the end of the course the students will be able to:
- Identify the various stakeholders and the role of trust between family members, as well as their impact on succession and continuity.
- Discuss the development needs and challenges of the leaders of the next generations.
- Analyse the effect of property taxation on ownership transfers between generations of family business owners and the implications of ownership structures on the competitive advantages of family businesses.
- Explain the importance of strategic planning for the continuity of the family business.
- Explore the critical role and challenges that non-family managers play in family businesses themselves.
- Analyze the impact of family culture, family communications, family conflicts and family unity and explore their interactions with the family business itself.
- Assess whether they wish to seek a career path in family businesses both as key managers and as professional advisors.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS: In order to effectively discuss cases, students should:
- Refer to specific facts and quotes of the case.
- Be prepared to make comments, ask questions or make observations.
During the discussion, students will be asked to:
- Illustrate a short PowerPoint presentation (max 10 slides, including cover)
- Take a specific position on certain issues and/or points.
- Ask clarification questions.
- Collaborate in order to keep the discussion alive.
- Help guide and involve other students in the discussion.
- Integrate the discussion with theories, contents and concepts already seen in other cases.

LEARNING SKILLS: Through the discussion of cases in CLASS each student will develop:
1. The ability to identify the "parameters" of the problem (the key concepts of the case).
2. A deep knowledge of the subject of the case (understanding of the material, a good response to the observations of other colleagues).
3. The ability to link the main theme discussed in the case to the other concepts studied in the course.
4. The ability to involve other colleagues in the discussion.




The course presents seven different sections, and a total of 15 lectures:
Section 1: Family firms: prevalence and relevance (2 lectures)
Section 2: Governance in the family firm (2 lectures)
Section 3: Strategic management in the family firm (3 lectures)
Section 4: Succession in the family firm (3 lectures)
Section 5: Change and transgenerational value creation (1 lecture)
Section 6: Interpersonal relationships and conflict in the family firm (2 lectures)
Section 7: Financial management in the family firm (2 lectures)


Zellweger, T. Managing the Family Business: Theory and Practice, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017: ISBN: 9781783470709
Slides and other material will be available on the course website.
During the course, we will discuss 10 cases:
1. More than a move to Mexico (Chapter 4: Zellweger, pages: 43-45)
2. Beretti Holdings: More than a retirement decision (Chapter 5: Zellweger, pages: 109-112)
3. Henkel’s Genthin plant (Chapter 6: Zellweger, page: 125)
4. Branding and CSR at HiPP (Chapter 6: Zellweger, pages: 165-166)
5. Managing paradoxes (Chapter 6: Zellweger, pages: 193-194)
6. Bernet’s choice—Valuation, emotional value, family discount and fair distribution of assets within the family (Chapter 7: Zellweger, pages: 306-307)
7. Transgenerational value creation at Ahlstrom (Finland) (Chapter 8: Zellweger, pages: 361-363)
8. Conflict in the Solomon family (Chapter 10: Zellweger, pages: 488-491)
9. Tom’s world (Chapter 9: Zellweger, pages: 422-424)
10. Medco Energi Internasional

Teaching methods

The lessons - frontal and not - will focus on transferring knowledge and on a strong interaction within the classroom; there are analysis of situations problems and business cases in order to facilitate participants in learning.
To meet its goals, this course uses readings, lectures, exercises, cases, individual and team assignments, and class discussion. Case assignments provide an important foundation for class discussion and must completed prior to each class session.
Lectures will highlight key points from the readings and provide additional information to supplement the readings. Cases will provide the opportunity to apply what has been learned to real world issues and scenarios.

Exam Rules

The exam, depending on the number of the registered student, is a written exam or an oral exam.
In case of a written exam, the duration is about 3-4 hours and it includes:
a) Case discussion - It may be given a case study to which some questions may pertain in order to lead the discussion. As students respond to the questions, they should use specific content and theories (use names to identify theories and models) as the basis of their lecture, and/or text material. Also, students should describe how they see the content/theory applying to the situation. Answers will be evaluated based upon both quantity and quality. Answers that are more complete and demonstrate a higher level of understanding and analysis will receive more points.
b) Some questions directly connected to the course textbook – The questions could be open, closed (multiple choice), or a combination of the both. It may be asked to discuss the models and the theories presented during the course. It will be asked to interpret some real incidents and to focus your attention to some specific theoretical issues.

Also, regular attending students have the opportunity to partecipate at the Team Project. The purpose of the project is to give an opportunity to apply what has been learned in the course (through course lectures, readings, and case discussions) to problems in a family firm of your team's choice. Class members, regular attending students, will work in teams of four (4) people. To the Team Project regular attending students will be allowed to achieve a -3/+3 extra points to the final grade of the First Exam after the Course. Only regular attending students will be accepted for the Team Project.