The WIFU

The Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU) conducts academic research and training on the special features of family businesses and business families. We are especially keen to maintain a high, internationally compatible level and to include all disciplines.

The foundations of a consistent transdisciplinary approach were laid when the Institute was founded. Three research and teaching areas – business administration, psychology/sociology and jurisprudence – have always provided an academic reflection of family businesses.

EXPERTISE, EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE

WIFU has developed an unusual level of expertise in the field of family businesses and business families. A group of 75 family businesses enables us to act on an equal footing as an institute of family businesses, for family businesses.

We utilise these unique circumstances to push on with our research and training and to develop innovative theories, approaches and practical solutions.

With five departments and numerous professors, WIFU has been contributing significantly for more than twenty years to the ability of family businesses and business families to endure into the future.

FACTS, DETAILS & FIGURES


  • Founded: 1998
  • 5 departments
  • 48 researchers and employees from 10 nations
  • 18 professors
  • 75 sponsors
  • 30 collaborators from academia and practice
  • 860 publications
  • 17 sets of best practice guides
  • 25 volumes in the WIFU scientific series
  • 20 congresses
  • 53 forums
  • 8 nations
  • 62 lecture series
  • 38 ongoing doctoral theses and habilitations

 

HISTORY


The Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU) was launched in 1998 at the Witten/Herdecke University’s Faculty of Economics. It was set up and initially developed with the comprehensive assistance of Deutsche Bank AG, which for seven years provided financial support for what was a unique family business research institution in Germany at the time.

AN INSTITUTE OF FAMILY BUSINESSES FOR FAMILY BUSINESSES

From summer 2005 onwards, a group of sponsoring family businesses took responsibility for the research institution, thus securing it future financing. But it is not only the financial support of this group of sponsors which enables and shapes the work of Institute, it is the content and personal assistance they provide us with. The WIFU sponsoring group is a uniquely protected platform for the exchange of opinions and experience between the businesses and researchers involved. A major step towards this was taken in 2009 with the establishment of the WIFU Foundation, which is currently supported by 75 sponsors. The friends and supporters of WIFU were thereby given an institutional structure which enables even more comprehensive research, training and practical exchange.

OBJECTIVES


… more closely examining the opportunities and risks of family businesses and business families,

… making a substantial contribution in research, training and practical exchange,

… promoting an exchange of opinions and experience between members of family businesses and business families,

… training potential successors and managers for family businesses,

… providing members of family businesses and business families with the academic findings generated, in a practical form.

 

OUR
VISION


As one of the leading institutes for research into family businesses and business families, we are pioneers and initiators. This is how we make a significant contribution towards a sustainably functional economy and society. Everybody seeking information and advice on this form of business orientates themselves around WIFU theories and uses the WIFU Network. WIFU offers a platform for free access knowledge and a platform for the target-group-specific analogue and digital exchange between family businesses and business families. This makes WIFU a market leader in research, knowledge, practical exchange and networking in the field of family businesses and business families.

We are consistently successful in our research because we always pursue mutual exchange between theory and practice. That is why we actively integrate members of family businesses and business families into our research and training. We deliver this knowledge to society, and in particular to the research community and to family entrepreneurs and business families, using the latest digital and analogue communication media and channels. We choose and design these on the basis of our system of values and the usage preferences of our stakeholders. The numerous publications which WIFU produces set the quality and performance standards that themselves provide impetus to the international research community.

OUR
MISSION


Understanding family businesses and business families through targeted, broad research:

We aim to understand family entrepreneurs and to create a protected space in which family entrepreneurs can meet and talk with each other openly and intimately. As a research institution, WIFU takes unconventional approaches, which give it access to areas that do not belong to mainstream interest. The Institute acts as an initiator and incorporates practical problems into the formation of its theories.

WIFU’s strength is that we combine disciplines (including psychology, sociology, jurisprudence etc.) and unite topics (crises & conflicts; company and family; corporate management; family businesses in society; transgenerationalism; digitalisation & technology). We establish ourselves across different disciplines to meet new challenges. Disciplines are used as a resource and for orientation, but are constantly changing, so as to generate new, and different findings. This means we go beyond the limits of previously linked disciplines in our themes and methods, opening up new focuses for our research.

SUPPORT WIFU


75 family businesses from Germany, Austria and Switzerland currently support the activities of WIFU. Our group of sponsors is open to any family business who would like to get involved with WIFU.