WIFU’S SPECTRUM
OF TOPICS

EXPERTISE AND KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AND FOR FAMILY BUSINESSES


The topics which WIFU’s research covers are as diverse as the family businesses that they examine. They encompass aspects like succession arrangements, family strategy, corporate and family governance, growth and internationalisation, shareholder configurations and conflicts, characteristics of long-lasting family businesses, opportunities and risks in owner-leadership, crisis dynamics, financing, personnel and management, and the law of family businesses. As well as large research projects, the Institute also supervises numerous habilitations, doctorates, and Master’s and Bachelor dissertations about these various issues.

BUSINESS AND FAMILY

BUSINESS AND FAMILY

When a business family grows strongly, it can turn into multiple groups and large dynastic family associations. How do you include them all?
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SUCCESSION

SUCCESSION

In this topic, corporate succession is the focus, with all its revenue and inheritance tax implications, and with all of its implications for upbringing.
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BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

How can a family business be steered in all its facets? This is where everything relating to corporate management is discussed.
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FAMILY BUSINESSES IN SOCIETY

FAMILY BUSINESSES IN SOCIETY

Family businesses are firmly rooted in society. How can family businesses from different cultural backgrounds collaborate successfully with each other?
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CRISES & CONFLICTS

CRISES & CONFLICTS

Business before family? Or family before business? The focus here is on the dynamics and influence of the family on the business.
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DIGITALISATION & TECHNOLOGY

DIGITALISATION & TECHNOLOGY

New technologies play a key role. How do family businesses position themselves to succeed in the age of digitalisation?
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LONGEVITY

LONGEVITY

In this topic, the focus is on transgenerational aspects and the part they play in the longevity of family businesses. We look at the mechanisms used and planned to sustain a business into the future.
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Family strategy encompasses all of the activities undertaken by a business family with the aim of professionalising themselves vis-à-vis the family business. This encompasses the values, regulations and definitions that apply within a business family and that are usually written down in a constitution. Working on a family strategy is one of the most fruitful yet challenging activities a business family can undertake.

Professor Dr Tom A. Rüsen, Managing Director of WIFU / Chairman of the WIFU Foundation

The family in a business is a competitive advantage that should not be underestimated, but it needs to be properly harnessed.

Professor Dr Marcel Hülsbeck, holder of the WIFU Foundation’s Chair of Management of Family Businesses

Business families are subject to special dynamics, tensions and challenges. These can only be understood from a combination of the viewpoints of sociology, social psychology and ethnology, and these must in turn take into account the broader social context.

Professor Dr Heiko Kleve, holder of the WIFU Foundation’s Chair of Organisation and Development of Business Families

Families and companies follow very different sets of logic as social systems. Problems and conflicts are the norm and should be expected. The actual academic challenge is to explain how many families manage to deal well with unavoidable differences and irreconcilabilities. It is this which must be learned: how can a family and company not only get along well, but also provide resources for one another which benefit both sides?

Professor Dr Arist von Schlippe, holder of the WIFU Foundation’s Chair of Leadership and Dynamics in Family Businesses

Legally relevant decisions have to be made and normative frameworks complied with in every business. The intertwining of family interests with corporate motives is specific to family businesses. Understanding this phenomenon from a jurisprudence point of view is a key focus of the law of family businesses across all of its topics.

PD Dr Christoph Schreiber, associate professor at the WIFU Foundation’s Department of Law for Family Businesses

Digitalisation means exciting challenges for family businesses, as well as enormous potential.

Dr Ulrich Bretschneider

DEFINITION OF FAMILY BUSINESS GOVERNANCE


The term family business governance (or family governance) refers to paying equal attention to the way family and business issues are handled.

Definition Family Business Governance

DEFINITION OF SME


The terms ‘Mittelstand’ and ‘small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)’ are used as synonyms for family businesses. But they do not describe the same thing.

Definition SME

DEFINITION OF SUCCESSION


Succession describes the efforts made to ensure that ownership, leadership and a sense of responsibility are passed onto the next generation.

Definition succession

DEFINITION OF FAMILY BUSINESS


Family businesses are companies that are wholly or partly in the possession of one or more families, who fundamentally steer the company and in which a handing over of responsibility to the next generation is envisaged.

Definition family business

DEFINITION OF BUSINESS FAMILIES


A business family is a family whose development is shaped by a company owned by one or more family members and in which a handing-over of entrepreneurial ownership to the next generation is envisaged.

Definition business families

DEFINITION OF SHAREHOLDER EXPERTISE


Shareholder expertise encompasses all of the skills and abilities of current and potential shareholders in a family business that enable them to successfully perform their function as owners.

Definition shareholder expertise

DEFINITION OF FAMILY STRATEGY


A family strategy reflects the way a business family sees itself and defines how the family can remain a resource to the company in the long term.

Definition family strategy

DEFINITION OF FAMILIY CONSTITUTION


A family constitution is a legally non-binding document belonging to a business family and summing up its key guidelines for familial and entrepreneurial thinking.

Definition family constitution