What can business school teach a family firm?

It could be claimed that Ramon Roqueta was born to make wine. He is the fifth generation of his loved ones to run Roqueta Origen, a group of wineries in Catalonia, north-east Spain. In 1898, his great-great grandfather recognized the very first of the family’s 4 wineries, but the business’s origins day again even even more.

Historic records clearly show that Roqueta’s ancestors began creating wine at the Masia Roqueta farmhouse, in the Bages area north of Barcelona, in 1199. A lot more than 800 decades afterwards, the company’s headquarters are on the exact same web site.

Roqueta turned to Iese Company School in Barcelona to get ready for his eventual succession. Just after schooling at wineries in France, Australia and the US, he enrolled on the Iese MBA in 2005 to sharpen his organization and leadership capabilities. “It’s not only about creating wine, but selling it and creating the organization lucrative,” he points out.

Just after graduating in 2007, Roqueta labored in consulting, then took up a administration purpose in the loved ones organization in 2009. It was about this time that he enrolled in Iese’s Alumni Mastering Software, a collection of free schooling sessions focusing on distinct regions of organization. In excess of numerous decades, he took courses on loved ones organization problems these kinds of as succession arranging and managing loved ones conflicts.

He learnt how to develop a loved ones protocol, a doc that codifies the business’s values, vision and mission, together with guidelines of possession, governance and administration. The course of action concerned the many loved ones customers, which strengthened unity. “This has been a aggressive advantage for the company in excess of the generations,” says Roqueta, who took in excess of from his father, Valentí, as chief govt in 2014.

Ramon Roqueta in the family vineyard
Ramon Roqueta says his Iese MBA served sharpen his capabilities to improve gross sales and income © Javier Luengo

Other organization schools are emulating Iese by launching courses that aim on the needs of loved ones businesses, which are likely to consider a prolonged-expression outlook on investments in its place of chasing quarterly returns. Family members businesses typically have sturdy stakeholder relationships and much more loyal workforces than other providers. They are also typically much more possibility-averse and have fewer personal debt.

“We can discover numerous factors from loved ones businesses,” says Allan Discua Cruz, director of the Centre for Family members Company at Lancaster University Administration School in north-west England. “There are so numerous concepts and dynamics that are worthy of comprehension, these kinds of as organization continuity, legacy, stewardship and resilience.”

Some academics say that each organization student ought to discover about loved ones company. “With the bulk of financial exercise and non-public sector employment in numerous European nations around the world created by loved ones businesses, it is really most likely that our graduates will be working for a person at some place,” says Marta Elvira, chair of loved ones-owned organization at Iese.

She notes an expansion of job opportunities, including at the growing ranks of loved ones places of work, in addition to careers at providers that support loved ones businesses, these kinds of as banks and consultancies. Other, much more entrepreneurial, learners are interested in setting up new organization dynasties.

Company schools in Europe are consequently sharpening their aim on loved ones enterprises, which make up sixty per cent of the region’s providers — from compact businesses to multinationals these kinds of as Exor, the investment decision company owned by Italy’s Agnelli loved ones, and Germany’s Volkswagen, the carmaker managed by the Porsche and Piëch family members.

Morten Bennedsen, educational director of the Wendel International Centre for Family members Business at Insead organization university in France, details out that loved ones organization exploration only emerged as an educational subject in the 1980s. “Business schools have not usually concentrated on loved ones corporations. That is changing as awareness grows,” he says. Several business people nonetheless do not consider their family members have to have a organization schooling, Bennedsen says, but provides: “As these providers scale, there is a have to have to professionalise the administration and governance. That is what you cannot discover from the loved ones.”

About 10 per cent of the 1,000 MBA learners who enrol at Insead each and every yr are from loved ones-owned providers. Typically, they are heirs, when current entrepreneurs consider aspect-time govt courses to manage the pressures of preserving a loved ones legacy. Insead provides a loved ones organization elective in its MBA, in addition to an govt programme that addresses the problems these providers experience.

Family members businesses are often claimed to be specifically resilient all through crises, but the exploration is inconclusive. Daniela Maresch and Matthias Fink at France’s Grenoble Ecole de Administration found that these kinds of businesses documented considerably much more fiscal losses than other individuals all through the pandemic. The preliminary stabilising impact of loved ones involvement can turn into a legal responsibility as crises unfold, the professors say, as the burden of accountability ignites loved ones conflict.

Milan’s SDA Bocconi School of Administration strategies to start new govt courses for loved ones businesses future yr. “There is now a stronger aim on possibility mitigation and resilience,” says Alessandro Minichilli, professor of corporate governance at the university. “The demand from customers for organization schooling in regions like succession arranging, sustainability and governance is massive.”

Rania Labaki, head of the Edhec Family members Company Centre in Lille, France, details out that only thirty per cent of loved ones enterprises make it to the 2nd generation, with the survival charge dropping precipitously with each and every succession.

The greatest transfer of prosperity on document is envisioned in the coming ten years as toddler boomers retire. In Europe, at the very least $3.2tn will adjust hands by 2030 and, in numerous European economies, the quantity of loved ones organization leaders in excess of 70 has been growing in the previous ten years.

Labaki believes succession is the place organization schools can genuinely make a change: “Young heirs often experience a challenge of legitimacy, and they have to have our competencies to direct the loved ones organization,” she says.