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2024/2025  BA-BHAAV2272U  Family Business Management: Strategy, Performance, Values

English Title
Family Business Management: Strategy, Performance, Values

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Andrew Popp - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
Main academic disciplines
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Management
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 09-02-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
On completion of the course the students are expected to be able to:
  • Define the family firm and critically discuss core concepts and theories in the field of family business studies
  • Explore family firms’ sources of competitive advantage and critically evaluate the range of strategic challenges and choices facing family firms
  • Critically analyze patterns of family firm formation and performance around the world
  • Explore the role and importance of history, culture, and values to family firm formation, strategy, and value creation
  • Work critically with theoretical texts and case studies to develop robust applied knowledge of family business management
Course prerequisites
Family Business Management: Strategy, Performance, Values:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Individual oral exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Standard CBS pages.
If the project is done individually: max 10 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Release of assignment The Assignment is released in Digital Exam (DE) at exam start
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

Across the duration of the course students will work in groups to develop an in-depth, structured study of a case study firm. The examination will act as the culmination of this work, in the form of a written product and oral examination.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Around the world, family firms have long been the most prevalent form of enterprise organization, and that is still true today. Nor is the common association between family firms and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) true. In Denmark alone we find the world’s largest shipping company (Maersk), the world’s largest toymaker (Lego), and the world’s second largest brewer (Carlsberg) – all of them family firms. Family firms matter, whether that is in the USA, Europe, or emerging economies in South America and Asia. Family firms are very significant drivers of value creation and innovation locally, nationally, and globally.


Family firms possess many significant advantages. Their long-term time horizons, governance structures, financing arrangements, and often prudent attitudes to risk promote resilience and longevity. So-called “familiness” promotes strategic vision and cohesiveness. Family firms’ particular goal orientations promote both value creation, and the strengthening of values. In these and other areas, family firms have very important lessons to teach us, whatever our career intentions. However, family firms often also present complex, ambiguous management challenges. The most obvious among these is the critical process of succession or transfer from one generation to the next. Family firms are also hybrid organizations, containing both business and family dimensions, which can sometimes come into sharp conflict. Relationships between family and non-family members of a firm can also require careful management, for example.


This course is for all students interested in the challenges and rewards of family business management, whether as a member of the owning family, a non-family member of the firm, or an external stakeholder, such as consultant or other professional service provider. Developed in collaboration with CBS’ Centre for Owner-managed Businesses, the course will introduce students to the core principles and practice of family business management. Working with applied case-studies in dialogue with theoretical texts, and learning from both CBS faculty and experienced practitioners, you will explore the sources of competitive advantage, particular challenges, and strategic options available to family firms. You will develop an appreciation for how family firms both create value and how they build on their culture to create values.You will explore how both forms of value creation might be brought to bear on the challenges facing humanity. And you will learn to evaluate the role and importance of family firms in local, national, and global contexts. Ultimately, the course aims to deepen your theoretical understanding of family business management whilst also equipping you with practical applied knowledge and skills.

Description of the teaching methods
Classroom-based and featuring a mix of expert CBS faculty and experienced practitioners from the world of family business, the course will be taught via a mix of lectures, seminars, and workshop activities in order to develop both theoretical insights and meaningful applied knowledge.

Lecture based elements of the teaching, backed by assigned readings will focus developing base knowledge and theoretical understanding. Seminar based elements of the teaching, sometimes drawing on expert outside speakers, will focus on developing practice oriented perspectives.

The course will be built around the development of a series of sustained, in-depth case studies that will provide the basis for both the mandatory activity and the final assessment. Workshop based elements of the teaching will allow students focused time working on their cases with the opportunity for face-to-face input from faculty.

Across the duration of the course students will work in groups to develop an in-depth, structured study of a case study firm. This voluntary assignment, taking place approximately midway through the course and taking the form of an in-class group presentation, will assess progress and readiness for for the exam.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will be given using a variety of means during the teaching period:
• Classroom teaching will be highly interactive and based in dialogue, particularly during the seminar element. The classroom thus provides an important, continuous forum for both faculty-student and peer-to-peer feedback
• Specifically, the compulsory assignment (an in-class group presentation) will involve focused faculty-student and peer-to-peer feedback. We will provide regular, clearly advertised office hours (public health measures permitting) and consultation via email.
• We will provide detailed examination preparation guidance
• We will provide oral feedback on examination performance on request.
Student workload
Teaching 38 hours
Preparation 96 hours
Examination 72 hours
Expected literature
  • Chua, J.H., Chrisman, J.J., & Sharma, P. (1999). Defining the family business by behavior. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 23(4), 19-39.
  • Miller, D. and Le Breton-Miller, I. (2005). Managing for the Long Run: Lessons in Competitive Advantage from Great Family Businesses. Boston: Harvard Business School Press
  • Miller, D., Le Breton-Miller, I., & Scholnick, B. (2008). Stewardship vs. stagnation: An empirical comparison of small family and nonfamily businesses. Journal of Management Studies, 45, 51–78. 
  • Holt, R. and Popp, A. (2013). Emotion, succession, and the family firm: Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, Business History, Vol. 55, 6.
  • De Massis, A., Frattini, F., Kotlar, J., Petruzzelli, A. M., & Wright, M. (2016). Innovation through tradition: lessons from innovative family businesses and directions for future research. The Academy of Management Perspectives30(1), 93-116.
  • Hamilton, E. (2013), Entrepreneurship across Generations: Narrative, Gender and Learning in Family Business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing
Last updated on 09-02-2024