Family Business Management, 15 credits
Family Business Management, 15 högskolepoäng
Course Syllabus for students Spring 2021
Course Code:JFAR21
Confirmed by:Council for Undergraduate and Masters Education Dec 3, 2020
Valid From:Jan 18, 2021
Education Cycle:Second-cycle level
Disciplinary domain:Social sciences
Subject group:FE1
Specialised in:A1N
Main field of study:Business Administration

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)

On completion of the course the students will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

1. Describe common characteristics and challenges of family businesses.
2. Explain the common theories and concepts in family business research and practice.

Skills and abilities

3. Analyze common issues in family business by applying appropriate knowledge resources.
4. Design sustainable solutions for common situations in family businesses.

Judgement and approach

5. Evaluate common concepts and models used to understand family businesses.
6. Reflect upon common challenges faced by family businesses in practice.


The course on Family Business Management, is based on more than 20 years of research and practical experience from family enterprises developed by the Centre for Family Entrepreneurship and Ownership (CeFEO) at Jönköping International Business School. Thanks to a large network of international collaborators and partners, CeFEO offers to the course a unique regional, national and international perspective in discussing Family Business dynamics.
The purpose of this course is to enhance participants’ awareness and comprehension of how family businesses can approach common issues and challenges related to their specific structure and goals. The broader aim of the course is to support the development of family firms and facilitate the process of succession and ownership transition in family businesses by sharing knowledge and tools for how this can be done in effective ways.

Connection to research and practice
This course builds on the research excellence and practical relevance of the Centre for Family Entrepreneurship and Ownership, bridging the core competences of JIBS faculty on family business and ownership. The participants will have a unique opportunity for applying the most relevant theoretical concepts to examples, cases and experiences from family businesses. The course is tailor-made for business owners, professionals and practitioners, working in or with family businesses, as well as for next-generation family business members and successors.

The 15 credits course on Family Business Management is composed by 5 parts of 3 credits each:
1. Family Business, introduction and characteristics
2. Family Business Strategy
3. Family Business Governance
4. Family Business Ownership
5. Family Business Emotions

Five teaching cases developed by CeFEO researchers specifically for each part of the course allow a deeper understanding of the topics addressed in the lectures and discussions, bridging theory and practice.

Family Business, introduction and characteristics, 3,0 credits

Introduces the main characteristics of family businesses and depict how and why they are different to other type of businesses. It also covers the economic and social importance of family businesses worldwide. The most common challenges, including strengths and weaknesses of family businesses will be discussed.

Family Business Strategy, 3,0 credits

Focuses on the importance of developing a strategy for how to deal with both the family ownership group and the business development. The impact of owners on strategy and firm performance will be discussed; as will different type of strategic choices for business growth, innovation and internationalization.

Family Business Governance, 3,0 credits

Focuses on the importance of designing a well-adapted corporate and family governance structure. Corporate governance mechanisms considered are board of directors and advisors, and top management team. Family governance mechanisms considered are family meetings, family councils and family constitution. The module will embrace the importance of clarifying differences in roles between owners, managers and family members, as well as how to develop an owners’ plan and vision.

Family Business Ownership, 3,0 credits

Introduces a process perspective on ownership transition and succession. It will describe the most common choices and decisions that family business owners and managers face when approaching time of succession. Issues like when it is time to start thinking about succession, as well as how to develop a plan for the process of succession will be discussed in depth. The typical factors driving internal vs external ownership transition will be covered, as well as why it is important to differ between management and ownership succession.

Family Business Emotions, 3,0 credits

Focuses on the importance of dealing with the emotional side of family business, how to deal with possible conflicts between key actors including how to design a succession and transition process perceived as fair and effective. Ownership transition and succession in family businesses is an emotional issue and the success or failure of the process depends largely on how relationships between people, often with different goals, are handled.

Type of instruction

This is an online course. All activities will be web-based, and consist of video-lectures, readings, teaching case, assignments, group discussions and feedback sessions. Students are expected to prepare for and actively participate in group discussions. Optional campus meetings might be arranged. The teaching is conducted in English.

The teaching is conducted in English.


Bachelor´s degree and extensive leadership experience in a family business. Other applicants with a Bachelor´s degree or an extensive business experience might be accepted to the course based on clear motivations for participating to a family business course. English proficiency is required (English 6 or equivalent).

We request all candidates to provide us with an application letter (min 300, max 500 words) written in English. This letter clearly describes the motivations for taking a family business course.

In particular, the application letter contains:
  • your personal and professional reasons for taking a Family Business course.
  • description of your leadership experience in a family business (e.g. as owner, member of the board, manager, or successor).
  • indication if you are a member of a family business or to what extent you are connected to a family business.
The application letter should be submitted as a PDF.

Examination and grades

The course is graded Fail (U) or Pass (G).

All parts of compulsory examination in the course must be passed with a passing grade (G) before a final grade can be set. The final grade of the course is determined by the sum total of points for all parts of examination in the course (0-100 points). Grade is set in accordance to JIBS grading policy.

Registration of examination for the sub-course 'Family Business, introduction and characteristics':
Name of the TestValueGrading
Family Business, introduction and characteristics - Individual quizzes11 creditU/G
Family Business, introduction and characteristics - Written reflections22 creditsU/G
1 ILOs: 1, 2
2 ILOs: 3, 4, 5, 6

Registration of examination for the sub-course 'Family Business Strategy':
Name of the TestValueGrading
Family Business Strategy - Individual quizzes11 creditU/G
Family Business Strategy - Written reflections22 creditsU/G
1 ILOs: 1, 2
2 ILOs: 3, 4, 5, 6

Registration of examination for the sub-course 'Family Business Governance':
Name of the TestValueGrading
Family Business Governance - Individual quizzes11 creditU/G
Family Business Governance - Written reflections22 creditsU/G
1 ILOs: 1, 2
2 ILOs: 3, 4, 5, 6

Registration of examination for the sub-course 'Family Business Ownership':
Name of the TestValueGrading
Family Business Ownership - Individual quizzes11 creditU/G
Family Business Ownership - Written reflections22 creditsU/G
1 ILOs: 1, 2
2 ILOs: 3, 4, 5, 6

Registration of examination for the sub-course 'Family Business Emotions':
Name of the TestValueGrading
Family Business Emotions - Individual quizzes11 creditU/G
Family Business Emotions - Written reflections22 creditsU/G
1 ILOs: 1, 2
2 ILOs: 3, 4, 5, 6

Course evaluation

It is the responsibility of the examiner to ensure that each course is evaluated. There must be course evaluators identified among the students. The evaluation is carried out continuously as well as at the end of the course, through a survey. After the course the course Examiner meets with student evaluators to discuss the survey results and possible improvements. A summary report is also created. The report is followed up by program directors and discussed with faculty and relevant others (e.g. Associate Dean of Education, Associate Dean of faculty, Director of PhD Candidates, Dean, or Director of Studies). The next time the course runs, students should be informed of any measures taken to improve the course based on the previous course evaluation.

Other information

The course is web based and structured with the intention to allow participants to maintain their daily job simultaneously.

Academic integrity
JIBS students are expected to maintain a strong academic integrity. This implies to behave within the boundaries of academic rules and expectations relating to all types of teaching and examination.
Copying someone else’s work is a particularly serious offence and can lead to disciplinary action. When you copy someone else’s work, you are plagiarizing. You must not copy sections of work (such as paragraphs, diagrams, tables and words) from any other person, including another student or any other author. Cutting and pasting is a clear example of plagiarism. There is a workshop and online resources to assist you in not plagiarizing called the Interactive Anti-Plagiarism Guide.
Other forms of breaking academic integrity include (but are not limited to) adding your name to a project you did not work on (or allowing someone to add their name), cheating on an examination, helping other students to cheat and submitting other students work as your own, and using non-allowed electronic equipment during an examination. All of these make you liable to disciplinary action.

Course literature

Compulsory Literature:
Selected academic articles.

Recommended Literature:
The following book is a companion for the entire course:
Zellweger, T. (2017), Managing the family business: theory and practice. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Each sub-course corresponds to the following chapters:
- Family Business, introduction and characteristics - Chapters 2, 3 & 4
- Family Business Strategy - Chapter 6
- Family Business Governance - Chapter 5
- Family Business Ownership - Chapter 7 & 8
- Family Business Emotions - Chapter 10