Event Formats Exclusively Available to WIFU Major Donors

WIFU Major Donors‘ Conference
The biannual WIFU Major Donors’ Conference is an event for major donors to the WIFU Foundation, through which we provide concise information about the current work of the Foundation and the Institute and share the latest research results and developments with our major donors. New WIFU major donors are introduced and ceremonially admitted. Each event focuses on a different topic, presented through reports informed by WIFU donors and research findings. The content is considered in various discussion formats, and individual solutions are developed. The one day WIFU Major Donors’ Conference in February focuses on an issue central to the subsequent Congress for Family Businesses. The two-day autumn meeting is held at a family business from among the WIFU donors. Since 2020, this event has been held in a hybrid format, both online and offline.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU@MidGen Conference
Since 2017, the WIFU Foundation has hosted a biannual WIFU@MidGen Conference aimed at young professionals among its major donors. These already “mature” successors are offered the opportunity to exchange ideas on equal terms and to discuss specific challenges. Participation is limited to those with a managerial function in the family business or a supervisory body. Since 2020, the event has been conducted in a hybrid format, both online and offline. Furthermore, an online meeting for major MidGen donors is held approximately every six to eight weeks.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU@NextGen Conference
Once a year, the WIFU Foundation organises its own event for successors in WIFU major donor businesses: the WIFU@NextGen Conference, concerned with issues currently affecting the younger generation. These are questions related to identity and decision-making about the “right” choice of career at the beginning of a degree course or after its completion and include discussion of roles in the family business and family, participation in operational management, or activity in supervisory or family committees. Since 2020, online events have been held in addition to face-to-face events.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Major Donors‘ Exchange Forum
In March 2020, the WIFU Foundation added a further exclusive format for WIFU major donors to its event portfolio. The launch was prompted by strong interest among major donors for a confidential, cross-sectional exchange on the effects of the coronavirus crisis and potential countermeasures to overcome it. The exchange forum takes place online on a regular basis.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Working Group "Management of the Business Family"
The working group on “Management of the Business Family” is targeted at those who take on the “caring” function in their business family. The participants are prompted to address specific questions through research findings, practical solutions and specific exercises. Peer group coaching takes place in joint discussions. The selection of the main topics is informed by the wishes of and current challenges facing the participants. In addition to face-to-face events, online meetings are regularly held.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Working Group "Learning to Let Go"
The WIFU “Learning to Let Go” Working Group is aimed at family members who are willing to hand over the family business. In face-to-face meetings held biannually, the challenges of letting go of previous roles in the family business or business family are reflected upon. In these meetings, the participants contribute their own personal and existential questions which then become the subject of in-depth analysis in “peer group coaching”.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Working Group "Digitalisation in Family Businesses"
This working group addresses digitalisation processes in family businesses, focused on the “digitalisation of the business” rather than the “digitalisation of the business family” and including the roles of digitalisation officers/CDOs and management representatives. As part of a digital deep-dive format, the focus lies primarily in intensive interaction between participants and experts and the development of specific solutions to specific questions. Topics in previous working group meetings include family influences on digitalisation dynamics in family businesses, organisation and digitalisation and business model innovation.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Working Group "Sustainability in Family Businesses"
This working group gives WIFU major donors the opportunity to participate in structured exchange and fosters mutual learning on the subject of sustainability activities in businesses and families. Every year, different hosts hold two full-day workshops (including a social event on the previous evening). The host and one other family business present a topic-related case for discussion. The workshop discussion forms part of a broader research process in which doctoral students are involved as well as the participating family businesses.
For further information visit our German website

Event Formats Exclusively for Members of Family Businesses and Business Families

WIFU Family Business Forum
This event format focuses on a specific business family or family-business-related topic. In addition to scientific lectures, it provides a professionally guided structure to give participants the opportunity for mutual exchange. Participants gain insights into the problem areas and solution strategies of other family businesses or business families and learn from one another. A clear understanding is provided of the peculiarities and opportunities associated with business and family shareholder growth. The event takes place at the premises of a family business in different regions of Germany; the number of participants is limited to approximately thirty individuals per forum. Participation in the forum is free of charge; a voluntary donation to the WIFU Foundation is appreciated.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Online Forum
Through its digital “WIFU Online Forum”, the WIFU Foundation continues its digitalisation course and offers an extension to its face-to-face formats. Participants exchange views on varying topics from the field of family business as part of a moderated online discussion. The 120–150-minute events are classified into the following categories:

• WIFU Online “Practical Theory” Forum, with a focus on the practical transfer of scientific knowledge from a WIFU expert;

• WIFU Online “Practical Experiences” Forum, in which WIFU experts briefly reflect on the main topic; the focus is on progress reports by representatives of befriended family businesses and business families;

• WIFU Online “Cooperation” Forum, planned and carried out with collaborative partners (government, consulting firms, institutes, other associations).

In the weeks before the online forum, the WIFU Foundation provides practice-oriented information materials, elaborations, studies, lecture recordings, etc. on LinkedIn to help with preparation. Participation in this forum is free of charge but requires prior registration.

For further information visit our German website

WIFU@Succession Camp
The WIFU Foundation has run a Succession Camp since 2020. It is an extension of previous formats for NextGens and is aimed specifically at successors up to the age of around 35. In the context of this event, succession is understood not only in terms of taking over operational management of the family business but also as performing an owner’s role, for example in a supervisory body.
During the two-day WIFU@Succession Camp, a joint attempt is made to view succession as an ongoing process within the business family. Through various workshop units, participants are encouraged to hold a mirror up to themselves and critically reflect on the question “Where do I stand – where do I want to go to?”

For further information visit our German website

WIFU@Successors’ Regulars‘ Table
The Regulars’ Table has been offered since 2021 as an online event for representatives of the next generation of business families. The participants (aged between 16 and around 35) are not yet working in the family business, have only recently joined or are still unsure whether they wish to succeed at all. The members of this peer group come together in online formats to discuss current issues and challenges. The Regulars’ Table takes place once a quarter on selected occasions such as Halloween, Pentecost or Easter.
For further information visit our German website

Symposium "Sustainability in Family Businesses"
Since 2021, this symposium has formed an integral component of WIFU's events programme. It aims to provide insights into the entrepreneurial dynamics of the societal transformation towards sustainability and to present the consequences for family businesses (e.g. related to supply chains, business models, certification) and business families (e.g. “Enkelfähigkeit”, succession, wealth management and impact investing). In addition to presentations by recognised industry and topic experts, specific best-practice examples from family businesses are presented and discussed. The event takes place once a year and is exclusively aimed at members of family businesses and business families as well as their top management.
For further information visit our German website

Symposium “Corporate History”
This symposium, which was launched in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (GuG) e.V. (Society for Corporate History), is dedicated to topics related to the historical circumstances of family businesses and business families and is held on a regular basis. Family businesses are encouraged and supported to address their histories. Through various modules, the event aims to give interested members of business families and family businesses food for thought on how to manage this topic within their own business families. The event is aimed exclusively at historians, academics, family entrepreneurs, top management outside the family and members of the business family. It offers a particularly protected and private space for mutual, very personal exchange.

For further information visit GuG's website

Symposium “Digitalisation in Family Businesses”
This symposium is organised in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft (PwC) with the aim to provide insights into comprehensive technical and social dynamics, as well as their consequences for the labour market and the need for adaptation in future organisational structures. In addition to presentations on the subject, specific practical examples will be offered from digital transformation processes in family businesses. The event is aimed exclusively at members of family businesses and business families as well as their top management.
For further information visit PWC's website

Witten Congress for Family Businesses
The Witten Congress for Family Businesses was conceived and organised by a team of students from Witten/Herdecke University. With over 300 participants, it is Europe's largest congress of its kind and is characterised, in particular, by the fact that participation is restricted exclusively to members of family businesses and business families. The intimate setting has been praised and appreciated by guests over the years. On both congress days, lectures and workshops are offered related to the main theme of the congress. The Succession Academy is an event format specifically designed for future family shareholders. In workshops and outings developed especially for the younger generation, participants have the opportunity to raise their questions for joint discussion. Registration for the event can be made via the website of the Witten Congress for Family Businesses.

For further information and registration visit the website of the Witten Congress for Family Businesses

Events for Those Interested from Practice and Academia

Symposium „WIFU meets ...“
The „WIFU meets ...“ symposium is a series of events focused on WIFU’s transdisciplinary research. The key findings in family business research are presented to researchers from other disciplines. Joint approaches with other researchers are sought and developed, and fruitful research collaborations established. Within the framework of this event, WIFU provides an impetus for other academic disciplines to address the phenomenon of the family business. In addition to colleagues from other academic fields, members of family businesses and business families are also invited to contribute practical questions to the transdisciplinary discourse. During the symposium, short keynotes are presented from respective academic perspectives or practical experiences. The event concludes with a panel discussion on the focus topic and the formulation of a feasible research agenda.
For further information visit our German website

WIFU Research Camp
The WIFU Research Camp and WIFU Summer Camp are designed for doctoral and post-doctoral students from Germany and abroad who aspire to an academic career in the field of family business research. They are key components of the WIFU Research Colloquium – WIFU's doctoral programme – and are particularly open to doctoral students who are on a doctoral programme, are about to enrol for a doctorate or have already completed their doctorate and have higher academic aspirations.

The camp is a face-to-face event and offers young academics the opportunity to share the current state of their research, learn from practice, and network with other academics in the field of family business. In addition to lectures and workshops on various research-relevant and methodological topics, the young academics benefit from topic-specific working groups. They also receive feedback from international academics and family business representatives on specific questions and research problems.

For further information visit our German website

WIFU Research Colloquium
The internationally oriented WIFU Research Colloquium – the largest of its kind in Germany – is mandatory for all WIFU doctoral and master’s students and focuses on the topic of family businesses and business families. In addition, external doctoral students from partner research projects on family businesses or business families are entitled to participate. The colloquium, held in German and English, meets six times a year – four times virtually (one day each time) and twice face-to-face: the four-day WIFU Research Camp in the winter semester and the two-day WIFU Summer Camp in the summer semester. Both in-person sessions are held in Witten. With an international, transdisciplinary and diverse character, the event includes targeted, group-specific offerings alongside common elements. A key component is the joint discussion of theories, concepts and methods relating to family businesses or business families.

Specific research questions (or the collected data) significant for research issues in family businesses are also discussed. In the “reviewer round”, current articles from academic journals may be analysed, or a participant's working paper refined so that it is ready for publication. Finally, participants present their own projects, either in a larger project presentation or in an “open-office hour” in which the current status of their own work is discussed. In addition, peer coaching is offered, addressing, for example, general questions about a dissertation or topics such as self- and time management, project management or working techniques.

For further information visit our German website

WIFU Lecture Series „Between Rigour & Relevance“
Renowned researchers from Germany and abroad are regular guests at WIFU. Following its declared aim – “Family business research combining scientific accuracy with entrepreneurial relevance” – the WIFU Lecture Series aims to provide insight into the range of global research in the field of family businesses and business families. In so doing, it demonstrates that the dichotomy between accuracy and relevance is not irresolvable. The core element of the WIFU Lecture Series is the lectures, held in German or English. The event usually talks place three times per semester as a face-to-face session or online event. In addition to researchers and students, interested representatives from practice are cordially invited.
For further information visit our German website


You will find all of WIFU’s event formats in our events brochure.

We look forward to welcome you to one of our many events.

Download events brochure (available in German)

Key dates 2023 (available in German)

Vilma Federico, Sandra Swienty and Sandra Becker


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