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2011/2012  KAN-CM_N74  Family Business Governance

English Title
Family Business Governance

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Spring
Changes in course schedule may occur Thursday 08.00-10.35, week 6-13,15,16
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course Coordinator
  • Morten Bennedsen - Department of Economics
  • Morten Bennedsen - Department of Economics
Secretary Ida Lyngby - il.eco@cbs.dk
Main Category of the Course
  • Corporate and Business Strategy
  • Economics, macro economics and managerial economics
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Learning Objectives
  • The students shall be able to identify how the uniqueness of a given family firm arises from a set of key assets – denoted family assets - and key constraints – denoted roadblocks.
  • The students shall be able to explain how many family assets and roadblocks are similar across firms, industries, cultures and continents.
  • The students shall be able to apply the family business governance model as a tool to address the fundamental decisions of ownership, succession and exit in family firms.
  • The students shall be able to apply the family business governance model to derive day to day governance strategies covering topics such as conflict management, the role of the corporate board, innovation, career and remuneration.
Intermediate microeconomics, finance
The exam will be an four hours closed book exam.
Family Business Governance:
Assessment Written Exam
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Censorship No censorship
Exam Period May/June
Aids Closed Book
Duration 4 Hours
Course Content

Family firms are the dominant form of business organization worldwide. Most closely held corporations are family firms in most countries around the world. Even among the biggest public traded firms we find family ownership and family control to be the norm rather than the exception. Any firm has its own identity but family firms have more than others. The identity of a given family firm origins from a number of sources including its unique business strategy, the value driven leadership or, its legacy after prospering and surviving for centuries.


The Family Business Governance course aims at identifying the uniqueness of family firms across countries and cultures. We will study family firms around the globe by using cases and data from very different environments, such as China, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, France, UK, Denmark, the Dominican Republic and the US.


More specifically, we deal with the following questions: What do families contribute to firms? Which opportunities and challenges do family firms face? How can a firm persist for a thousand years and go through dozens of successions inside the same family? How do family firms cope with financial crisis and dramatic changes in business environment? How do family psychology, family structures and family conflicts affect corporate behaviour? How can families find the right balance between family and outside ownership and between family and professional management? Why are many buy-out funds and other private equity investors particular interested in family firms?


The course is target for anyone with an interest in governance and family firms, including:

  1. Students with a family firm background who have plans for a future career in the family firm.
  2. Students with a family firm background who are undecided on their future career or that have decided not to pursue a career in the family firm.
  3. Students who are interested in working in family firms and other forms of closely held corporations.
  4. Students who are interesting in buying and selling family firms either through a future MBI or through working in investment banking and/or private equity.
Teaching Methods
The course will be a combination of lectures and class discussion using assigned cases and mini cases. The lecture notes will provide the essential foundation for each topic and will be the starting points for class discussion. In addition to this, there will be guest lectures from business people with experience in managing and dealing with family firms.

The course will be based on chapters of a forthcoming book written by Morten Bennedsen and Joseph F. Fan (2011), “Governing the Family Business”. Each chapter of the book develops the key concepts and provides a number of mini cases and more systematic evidence for each of the session topics.

In addition to the lecture notes, there will be a set of handouts including live cases on family business. These handouts will also be distributed on the course homepage a week before class.