On January 7th, three master’s students from Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) will be flying out to the University of Vermont, in Burlington, USA, to take part in the Family Enterprise Case Competition (FECC) from the 9th to the 12th January. Previous JIBS teams have won this prestigious international competition three years in a row. Can they do it again?
The FECC is a tough student competition and the only one in the world that focuses on family business. Top business students, scholars and business leaders from 29 countries around the world will gather at the University of Vermont to take part. JIBS master’s students Steven Lau, Kristina Baumgartner and Rita Stefanuto will be among them. Coming from Denmark, Austria and Italy respectively, the team members mirror JIBS’ international character and are looking forward to taking part in this global event.
“We are looking forward to meeting all the professors we have been reading about for the past year and a half, and also meeting other dedicated students and professionals from around the world who share our passion for family business,” says Steven Lau.
A JIBS Family Enterprise team has been participating in the competition since it began in 2013 and the track record so far has been impressive. The team has been division finalist in the first year of the competition and thereafter was awarded first place three years in a row from 2014-2016. After a gap of two years from competing, JIBS are now back for another shot at victory.
During four challenging rounds of competition, teams are given four sophisticated family business cases which they must use their skills and training to solve within four hours. They present their solution to a distinguished panel of judges, themselves family business scholars, practitioners and family business owners, who determine which group has best understood, analysed and presented their case.
What has been JIBS’ winning formula in previous years? According to Massimo Baù, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at JIBS and coach for the JIBS Family Enterprise team in two previous competitions, it has been a combination of the talented and dedicated students that are selected and the valuable training and support provided by the university’s research Centre for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO) – the best centre in Europe for family business research according to international rankings.
“Without doubt the presence of the CeFEO research environment has made an impact on our previous success in this competition. It’s been possible to leverage resources and gain access to the best scholars on the topics of family business and ownership. Family enterprise is about business, but it also involves social, emotional and psychological aspects. At JIBS, we do a good job in training our students in understanding all of these issues.”
The team has had to complete their training for the competition in just three months, receiving extra-curricular lectures on family business topics relevant for the competition, and putting in an intensive amount of practice hours in besides their regular courses, later in the evenings and also in the weekends, constantly supported by their coach and other CeFEO members.
“Preparing for this was really tough,” says Rita Stefanuto. “It involved doing lots of practice cases, so we were at school extra hours ever week. This was especially busy in December when we were also handing in all our other assignments. But it's been an amazing experience and we have learnt a huge amount.”
How will it go this year? Hopes are high, but right now the main focus is on participating in the best way possible.
“This is a unique and valuable experience for the students on our team,” says coach Massimo Baù. “They will get to meet and talk to people from all over the world including top experts in family enterprise. We want them to have a great time and get the most out of it that they can.”