WIFU Departments


The WIFU Foundation’s Department of Leadership and Dynamics in Family Businesses conducts research and training with a focus on psychological, family psychological and sociological issues around family businesses and the way they interact with the economic sciences. From a system-theoretical point of view, families and businesses are considered specific social systems in which expectation structures are so different, indeed so contradictory, that their members frequently find themselves in circumstances that can be described as paradoxical.

In concrete terms, we investigate how business families of different sizes handle such ‘impossibilities’, including

  • what particular conflict situations look like and how they are handled
  • which specific family strategies developed over the medium and long term have proven sustainable
  • which instruments of family governance have worked in which configurations
  • what diverse family and business issues concerning company succession arise and the ways business families have developed to deal with them.


  • Conflicts and Conflict Management, especially in Family Businesses
  • Psychology of Succession


Prof. Dr. Arist von Schlippe
Chairholder of Leadership & Dynamics in Family Businesses
Nicola Mehringer
Secretary at the Chair of Management of Family Businesses, Corporate Entrepreneurship and Digitisation, Family Business Law, Leadership and Dynamics in Family Businesses



Prof. Dr. Arist von Schlippe

Phone: +49 2302 926 515
Email: schlippe@uni-wh.de

As a recognised expert in family psychology, Prof. Arist von Schlippe was appointed as the chair of Management and Dynamics of Family Businesses at the Witten Institute for Family Business (WIFU) in 2005. He headed the WIFU between 2007 and 2017 as academic director. Since 2017, he has continued as the chair with a reduced teaching load.

Prof. von Schlippe is a qualified psychologist (Hamburg University, 1976), psychological psychotherapist, family therapist and family psychologist. He gained his PhD at Osnabrück University (1986) and habilitated there in psychotherapy and clinical psychology (2001). From 1986 to 2015 he worked part-time as a teaching therapist and teaching supervisor at the Institute for Family Therapy Weinheim e.V. From 1999 to 2005, he was the first chairman of the Systemic Society in Berlin.

Main areas of work, research and interest

  • Family governance
  • Corporate succession
  • Stories in family businesses (‘the power of stories’)
  • Communicating values and corporate culture
  • Conflict management
  • Cross-generational entrepreneurship
  • Systemic parent coaching


You will find detailed information at:

Google Scholar



  • Managing large dynastic families
  • Ownership, Meaning and Practice


  • Die Familiencharta (The family charter – as second assessor, dissertation at Bochum University, first supervisor Professor Dr Katharina Uffmann)
  • Die Identität großer Unternehmerfamilien. Identitätspflege als Aufgabe in Mehr-Generationen-Familienunternehmen (The identity of large business families. Identity care as a task in multi-generation family businesses)
  • Die Rolle der Frauen und ihre Handlungsspielräume in Familienunternehmen in historischer Perspektive (The role of women and their scope for action in family businesses from a historical perspective)
  • Einfluss des vorweggenommenen Eigentumübergangs auf die emotionale Bindung an das Unternehmen (Influence of the anticipated transfer of ownership on the emotional attachment to the company)
  • Finanzierung von Familienunternehmen über Beteiligungsgesellschaften (Financing of family businesses through investment companies)
  • Unternehmer als familienfremde Beiräte (Entrepreneurs as non-family advisors)


  • Dr Thomas Urban: Krisenstrategien und Langlebigkeit von Familienunternehmen aus historischer Perspektive (Crisis strategies and longevity of family businesses from a historical perspective)

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