Family companies are the engines of economic develop across the world, and they play an important role in labor market, employing the vast majority of private sector workers. They also tend to be more resilient than other companies with lower insolvency rates through crises.
However, family business face unique challenges, and that is where executive education can help. A number of the world’s leading business schools cater to family-owned companies with specific executive courses.
A common theme among the course providers is how to transition from one generation to the next, along with the unique governance challenges faced by family firms.
Many of the best executive courses in family business management also offer executive coaches to support the implementation of academic theory into the real world, and may even offer a personalized leadership development journey. The programs are hands-on, with participants learning through a blend of theory and role-play.
Some of the courses are partnerships delivered between multiple institutions, with participants spending their time at both schools in different parts of the world to develop a more global perspective on family enterprise. Other programs are delivered entirely online, offering greater flexibility and convenience to participants.
These executive education programs are for all members of family-owned companies in addition to non-executive directors and board members, along with investors and other stakeholders.
Harvard Business School runs a number of executive education programs that tackle the unique complexities of family businesses. This includes the Families in Business program, an in-person course taught at the HBS campus in Boston. Participants receive a personalized learning experience, building an action plan for their unique family business, and learn how to implement practices that drive high performance, shareholder loyalty and healthy family relationships.View School Profile
IMD Business School, in Switzerland, runs a four-day program called Leading the Family Business, drawing on 30 years of expertise in the field. Delivered on campus in Lausanne, the program is based at the Global Family Business Center, where participants expand their knowledge of successful family companies and learn how to navigate challenges in their own business. The program is for all members of family-owned companies in addition to non-executive directors and board members.View School Profile
INSEAD, a leading business school, runs the Family Enterprise Challenge program over four and a half days in Fontainebleau, France. The executive program draws on the latest research to deliver practical workshops in which participants develop a concrete action plan for their company and its governance. They also gain insight into the psychological dynamics of family leadership and how to manage conflict, diverse personalities and difficult relationships.View School Profile
Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois offers a whole suite of family enterprise programs. This includes the Family Enterprise Boards course that helps participants to navigate their unique governance challenges. They learn, through case-studies and panels with experienced family executives and independent directors, how to align the board with the values and long-term growth plans of family-owned companies.View School Profile
HEC Paris in France offers an executive certificate program in the governance and management of family firms, which can help to ensure the smooth transition of power between the generations. The program runs for 14 days and is delivered in person. It’s aimed at current or future directors of family companies, shareholders and board members. It’s a hands-on program, with participants learning through a blend of theory and role-play.View School Profile
Also in France, IESEG School of Management, which is based in Lille, and the LUISS Business School in Rome, Italy, jointly offer the Family Business Management executive education program. Modules are taught in English at both institutions. The program is designed for the heirs of business entrepreneurs, who study competitive strategy and business model development, along with corporate finance. The participants are assigned executive coaches who support the practical application of what has been taught in the real world.View School Profile
MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts offers the highly rated Founder to Family: Sustaining Family Business Success program. Taught full-time and in person over five days, the executive course helps the founders of family firms to build a bridge to the next generation. Participants learn how to blend heirs into the governance, ownership, management and successful planning of the company. The program also provides daily coaching and a personalized development journey.View School Profile
Cornell University’s Johnson College of Business in the US, and INCAE Business School in Costa Rica, jointly run the Leading Families, Sustaining Enterprises executive education program. Delivered online, the executive course helps participants to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by family firms along with the options available to nurture the next generation, and innovative approaches to corporate governance.View School Profile
The Entrepreneurial Family is a weeklong summer program for executives put on by Babson College in Massachusetts. It’s designed for directors of family firms and their heirs, who study together to better understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The program often sparks new entrepreneurial ideas that families pursue together, and offers a better understanding of the career pathways available to the next generation.View School Profile
China’s Guanghua School of Management, the UK’s Saïd Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management jointly offer a three-week program called Transforming Family Businesses: Choosing Your Path. It’s delivered in Oxford, Beijing and Boston. Participants learn how to create an enduring family enterprise over generations by professionalizing governance, creating a succession process and a culture of innovation to find new business opportunities and drive competitive advantage.View School Profile
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