Postgraduate Course: Family Business Management (CMSE11579)
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Whether or not your own family operates a business, chances are you will sooner or later work in, for, or with a family business in your future career.
As such, this course provides you with fundamental insights into the 'predictably unpredictable' nature of, and specific challenges faced by family businesses, and thereby gives you a competitive edge over your peers.
The course covers business processes - such as relationship management and innovation - that tend to work differently in family businesses compared to start-ups or 'faceless' corporations, but also introduces issues that are largely unique to family firms and crucial to their transgenerational survival, such as succession planning.
Essential theoretical and practical tools needed to understand and analyse a family business and its owning family will be discussed in a lecture format, and directly applied in engaging case studies of real and fictional family business problems in interactive tutorial sessions.
Opportunities are created for you to benchmark the practical relevance of your learnings by engaging with guest lecturers active in the fascinating world of family business.
Family Business Management is a course aimed at students with an interest in family businesses, irrespective of whether that interest stems from a personal connection with a family business, or from other sources of curiosity.
The course provides a research-based and theoretically grounded understanding of how certain business processes tend to work differently in family businesses, as well as of family business-specific challenges like succession planning and the intergenerational transfer of owner- and leadership.
The emphasis will however be on the practical application of course learnings to actual problems faced by real and fictional family businesses and business families.
While the course thus covers business topics within the family business context, it is also open to students with only modest backgrounds in business education. To facilitate a common level of understanding necessary for fruitful class discussion, some introductory readings may be suggested to students unfamiliar with basic concepts in e.g. general and strategic management.
- Historical development, prevalence and significance of the family business
- Theories and tools for analysing a family business
- Types of family firms
- Relationships and conflict in family businesses
- The succession process from both sides of the generational divide
- Innovation and change in family businesses
- Family businesses and global grand challenges
The course will be organized around five weekly sessions that combine a lecture-based discussion of assigned and suggested literature related to core topic of that week, with a seminar-based interactive session devoted to the in-class analysis and discussion of family business cases.
A number of guest lectures relevant to the week's topic at hand complement the theory-based sessions and will allow students to assess the practical validity of their class learnings.
Students are encouraged to bring up real-life family business-related issues, both from own experience and from current events covered in media.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
||Block 4 (Sem 2)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12.5,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||100% coursework (individual) - assesses all course Learning Outcomes
||Formative: Students will receive in-class formative feedback on their displayed understanding of, and proposed solutions to the (non-graded) case studies discussed in class throughout the course. This feedback will be helpful in developing their skill and confidence in analysing family business problems, and prepare them in a meaningful way for the analytical essay they have to hand in at the end of the course. Additionally, students will get the opportunity to discuss (in person with the course organizer) the identified challenge / key decision that will form the core focus of their analytical essay in week 3, to facilitate the writing of their essay assignment.
Summative: Feedback will be provided on the assessment.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Understand the core strengths and weaknesses of, and opportunities and challenges faced by family businesses.
- Explain why economically irrational (strategic) decisions may still be considered rational when taking into account the noneconomic or socioemotional goals of business families.
- Analyse the structure and developmental trajectory of a family business and its owning family using appropriate tools.
- Based on the understanding summarized in outcomes 1-3, provide tailored advice to family businesses and/or business families facing a business (-family) challenge.
|Gersick, K., J. A. Davis, M. M. Hampton, and I. Lansberg. Generation to Generation: Life Cycles of the Family Business. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1997. ISBN 9780875845555|
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Course secretary||Ms Heather Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)50 8074