Renowned researchers from Germany and abroad are regular guests at the Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU). With their contributions to the lecture series ‘Family business research reconciling academic rigour and business relevance’, they provide insight into matters of family business research. These issues are often highly complex, because they require interaction between different academic disciplines.

Family business research occupies a paradoxical space between rigour and relevance. Research that follows strict rules and delivers precise, ironclad data is only usually interesting to a select circle of researchers. But research that aims for relevance often delivers soft, qualitative data that is very practically oriented, but too imprecise from an academic point of view. WIFU aims to illustrate this paradox of ‘rigour’ and ‘relevance’ in its lecture series.

Entitled ‘Family business research reconciling academic rigour and business relevance,’ this series of events aims to provide an insight into the breadth of international research in the field of family businesses and business families, and to demonstrate that the aforementioned dichotomy between rigour and relevance is not necessarily insoluble.


WIFU has been organising this lecture series since 2009, and it has evolved into a highly regarded event format. The talks concern topics such as ‘Building Wealth. The social profile and personality of successful (family) entrepreneurs’, ‘Family Wars’ and ‘Emotional Value – corporate value beyond financial size.’ World-leading researchers from research centres and universities all around the globe respond to an invitation to present their research projects and results at Witten.

The talks are delivered in German and English. Events are held in the rooms of the Witten/Herdecke University and entry is free.


Dates summer semester 2021

On May 17th, 2021 the WIFU lecture series will take place on the subject of “Business Model Innovation: Concept, Findings and
Special features in family businesses “. You can find more information about the event and registration here:

Flyer lecture series


  • Frequency: three times a term
  • Participants: members of family businesses and business families, researchers, interested public.
  • Venue: Witten/Herdecke University
  • Free entry
  • Format: talks by renowned international researchers


  • Resolving shareholder conflicts through insolvency law – opportunity or risk for family businesses?
  • The succession process in Polish family businesses
  • CSR and Innovation – social responsibility as an innovation opportunity for family businesses
  • The business family conundrum – a functional analysis
  • The Science of Succession: Myths and Realities about Successful Family Business Transitions
  • Family Firms‘ Governance, Strategy, and Performance: The Italian Experience
  • Family Offices
  • Emotional Dynamics in the Family Business


Dr. Ruth Orenstrat

Phone: +49 2302 926 506