A focus on family business

prof joachim schwassJoachim Schwass, Professor of Family Business at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) based in Switzerland and co-director of the Global Family Business Center, mainly focuses on owner related issues, in particular from the next generation perspective. Before joining IMD, he was MD of several companies which were part of his own family’s business. He managed industrial manufacturing businesses in Australia and USA and an international trading business in Switzerland.

A few months ago Andrew Hill, who writes on global business, strategy and management for the Financial Times, stressed that maintaining ownership and management of a large family business “more often than not leads downhill into further confusion, uncertainty and internecine conflict” adding that drawing a line between family ownership and professional management is “do-able and may be their best bet”.

Professor Schwass replied:

“Professionalising leadership in a family business is certainly a good strategy. But 25 years of IMD research on globally successful and multi-generational family businesses has shown that the “family factor” can contribute important and meaningful value to the ownership and management of the business: entrepreneurial risk-taking, fast decisions, long-term views and socially responsible strategies.

“Well prepared and educated families can be a strong asset in owning and leading a growing family business. Seeing families as a liability to their business and unprofessional is not reflective of the reality”.

family business awards logo

On this site we have reported on the fortunes of several flourishing family businesses in the West Midlands region, including:

2012 West Midlands manufacturers Alumet and Professional Polishing Services received Midlands Family Business Awards; 2013 J8 Precision Engineering of Aston, Birmingham firm Fracino, Ecospin: zero-emission, three-wheeled Raptor moped, Lift Engineering, JCB, Essington Fruit Farm, Andel Plastics, Newby Foundries of Smethwick and Heritage Silverware of Small Heath.

Professor Schwass’ book “Wise Growth Strategies in Leading Family Businesses” was published in 2005, in German in 2007, in Spanish in 2008, and in Mandarin in 2012. He is the lead author of “Wise Wealth”, which was published in 2010, and in Mandarin in 2013.


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