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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Common Courses (Management School)

Postgraduate Course: Family Business Management (CMSE11579)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryWhether 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.
Course description 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.

Outline content:
- 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)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 4 (Sem 2)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12.5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 85 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework (individual) - assesses all course Learning Outcomes
Feedback 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
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the core strengths and weaknesses of, and opportunities and challenges faced by family businesses.
  2. Explain why economically irrational (strategic) decisions may still be considered rational when taking into account the noneconomic or socioemotional goals of business families.
  3. Analyse the structure and developmental trajectory of a family business and its owning family using appropriate tools.
  4. Based on the understanding summarized in outcomes 1-3, provide tailored advice to family businesses and/or business families facing a business (-family) challenge.
Reading List
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
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding

After completing this course, students should be able to:

Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of contemporary organisational disciplines; comprehend the role of business within the contemporary world; and critically evaluate and synthesise primary and secondary research and sources of evidence in order to make, and present, well informed and transparent organisation-related decisions, which have a positive global impact.

Identify, define and analyse theoretical and applied business and management problems, and develop approaches, informed by an understanding of appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative techniques, to explore and solve them responsibly.

Communication, ICT, and Numeracy Skills

After completing this course, students should be able to:

Critically evaluate and present digital and other sources, research methods, data and information; discern their limitations, accuracy, validity, reliability and suitability; and apply responsibly in a wide variety of organisational contexts.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jasper Brinkerink
Course secretaryMiss Isla Dalley
Tel: (0131 6)50 3900
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