Degree course: 
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Seat of the course: 
Varese - Università degli Studi dell'Insubria
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (40 hours)

There are no binding prerequisites, but basic knowledge of strategy, organization and business law is recommended.

Final Examination: 

Students' learning will be tested:
- in class by giving direct feedbacks during lectures and case discussions;
- through the exam, which is in written form according to what follows
and aimed at applying theories and models learned during the course to real-life situations.
Exam evaluation criteria will be, in fact, the rigorous knowledge of concepts, theories and model as well as the capacity to use them in order to interpret concrete situations, diagnosing problems and offering solutions.

Specifically, students are asked:

1. To collect some press articles and other information (e.g. from the company website) on a family business that intrigues you, possibly (but not compulsorily) a well-known one to be able to get more information.
You may also want to analyze your family business or another one you know very well, provided that you have the necessary information and that you disclose the sources you use. All sources must be quoted.
2. To write a short note (paper’s Part 1).
The note’s contents must describe the family business covering course topics
3. To write a commentary (paper’s Part 2). on the family business described in the note, applying (and making explicit reference to) the models and concepts you have learnt by attending classes and studying slides and articles.
Your commentary should include:
a. An introduction, representing an overview of the family business system and its main strategies and offering your synthetic comments, based on application of theoretical models and concepts, explaining whether or not you consider the family business you have chosen a successful one and why, as well as explaining if you think that the right conditions exist for this family business to continue to be successful in the future (or not) and why
b. More specific comments on 3 topics that give your own assessment of the topics you have chosen to focus upon, and to offer your own proposals/suggestions, always based on the course’s theoretical models and concepts.
4. In sum, the paper to be prepared includes both the note and the commentary – part 1 + part 2 (12 to 15 pages, single spaced) - together with a cover page where you are asked to declare to accept the University’s ethical code and its implications about exams (that is, you commit to provide an original work), with your signature.

Further indications will be given at the beginning of the course.

Voto Finale

The course of Management and Governance of Family firms intends to help students: i) to deeply understand distinctive traits, evolution paths and continuity conditions of family firms, with a special focus on strategic management, organization, business governance as well as on transitions in leadership and ownership; ii) by this means, to actively contribute to family firms' viability in their future roles, both as family business members involved in management and governance and as non-family managers, advisors or managers of financial institutions.

To reach these goals, students will be challenged to build up a solid and specific theoretical knowledge (based on textbooks and other materials) as well as as to develop the ability to apply theory to cases in a problem-solving, inter-functional and inter-disciplinary perspective.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:
- critically analyze concepts and models and apply them to real situations;
- make diagnoses of various and complex family business issues;
- identify possible solutions and evaluate their pros and cons.
Such abilities will be trained in class and tested in the exam (see details on the exam in a following point).

The following points offer an overview of course contents (tentative durations are indicated):

Family business original traits, main challenges and continuity conditions: an overview (7 h).

The crucial role of responsible ownership values (3 h).

The strategy process and strategic decisions at business level (8 h).

Organization strategies (6 h).

Governance strategies (3 h).

Generational transitions in leadership and ownership (9 h).

Family agreements (2 h).

Governing transitions and the role of third parties (2 h).

Course introduction.

The definition and relevance of family firms worldwide.

Distinctive traits of family firms: the 3 circles.

The variety and dynamics of family firms.

The family business system.

Conditions for family firms’ continuity: an overview; responsible ownership values and their transmission over generations as the top condition.

The peculiar traits of strategy process and strategic decisions in family firms at business level.

Focused leadership strategies and their sustainability conditions.

Growth strategies and their sustainability conditions.

Diversification strategies for family and business.

Organizational strategies. Grooming and integrating non-family managers.

Organizational strategies. Addressing organizational dilemmas as non-family managers. Developing structures and operating systems.

Governance strategies at company level (with hints on ownership and family level).
Communication and conflict management in owning families

Growing and identifying future leaders and top managers: an assessment model for family and non-family ones.

Governing generational transition processes in leadership and top management: an overview of challenges and success conditions; the key steps to manage; the special challenges of next generation co-leaders.

Governing transition processes in leadership, top management and ownership. The role of family agreements and advisors.

Course materials include:

1) Selected readings (compulsory, subject to changes, available on the website):
- The Economist, To have and to hold, Special Report on Family Companies, 18th April 2015;
- Baron,
- Ward, The special role of strategic planning for family businesses, FBR, 1988;
- Ward,
- Ward, Growing the family business, FBR, 1997;
- Aronoff, Ward, An open letter to the non-family executive, FEP, 2000;
- Ward,
- Martin, Is family governance an oxymoron?, FBR, 2001;
- Corbetta, Maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit across generations, EY, 2014;
- Lansberg, The tests of a prince, HBR, 2009;
- Montemerlo, Note on team leadership, 2015;
- Montemerlo, Siblings’ capital: a special asset for family continuity, 2015.

2) Recommended textbooks (optional):
- Aronoff C., Ward J.L., “More than Family: Non-Family Executives in the Family Business”, Family Enterprise Publishers, 2000;
- Montemerlo D. and Ward J.L., The Family Constitution, Palgrave, 2011.

3) Cases for discussion (used o make the most of class work, never used as a basis for exam questions, available on the website session by session):
- Cerini;
- Balestri;
- Ferragamo.

4) Slides (compulsory, available on the website session by session).


The course is mainly carried out though traditional frontal teaching and presentations with slides. Students are highly encouraged to participate in class by asking questions and engaging in discussions.
Particularly, case discussions are aimed at applying concepts and models to real situations and thereby at strengthening students’ capacity to make diagnoses of complex problems as well as identify solution alternatives; a session featuring a testimonial is aimed at exposing students to a family business case by meeting a second or third generation young leader.

Office hours are indicated, and regularly updated, in professor's homepage.