Shareholder competence in family businesses

Not so easy to raise a successor!


Shareholders of family businesses have – in contrast to owners of publicly owned enterprises – to face the challenge to actively design the future of the family business. They have the task to create long-term goals for management, to consult them in strategic questions at eye level and to control them in an adequate manner. As member of entrepreneurial families they do not need only technical qualifications as knowledge about accounting, financing, shareholder law, asset management, knowledge of the history of the enterprise, of current and technological challenges of the sector and the future strategy. They rather need to be familiar with functional logics and system dynamics of family and family business. In short: the need very special knowledge – shareholder competence.


Shareholder competence contains all skills and abilities of current and potential shareholder of a (family) business to successfully represent the owners‘ interests as well as rights and duties within the shareholder family. Furthermore they need to be able to deal with to date unknown situations in a successful way. According to this the development of shareholder competence contains all measures that members of an entrepreneurial family seize to secure education and training of competences to fill the role as shareholder of the joint family business.

The objective of this project was to create a practical study that is also relevant for practice about the topic shareholder competence and development of shareholder competence in family businesses and business families. The WIFU was supported in this project by our cooperation partner PricewaterhouseCoopers AG.

Contact persons: Tom A. Rüsen, Andrea Calabrò, Nicole Vöpel


Presentation of the study at the 15. Congress for Family Businesses


The study “Property entails obligation – acrosse generations” was presented at the 15. Congress for Family Businesses at Witten/Herdecke University at an exclusive panel discussion on 16. February 2013.

Hosted by Dr. Peter Bartels (PricewaterhouseCoopers AG) the following persons discussed about required skills and capabilities of (potential) shareholders of family businesses to fill their responsible role as (co-)owner in an efficient way: Jon Baumhauer (Merck KG), Gerd Pieper (Stadtparfümerie Pieper), Stefan Dräger (Drägerwerk AG) and Dr. Tom A. Rüsen (Witten Institute for Family Business.

The study can be downloaded free of charge here.

The study is also available as print copy. Please contact us.