The 25 best business schools for family businesses - and their star professors

 A class at Harvard Business School

A class at Harvard Business School

Competition to attract the sons and daughters of family business dynasties to their MBA and similar courses is as keen as ever among the global business schools. Here’s a list of the 25 best schools - and their star professors.

In alphabetical order

Adelaide Business School/University of Adelaide

The Australian business school is the leading centre for family business education and research in the country. It has links to many of the country’s top family businesses, especially with the wine and farm owning family dynasties of Australia.

Star professor: Jill Thomas, co-founder of the Family Business Education and Research Group

Alberta School of Business/University of Alberta

The Canadian business school is the leading centre for family business studies and research in Canada. Its Alberta Business Family Institute is the focal point of its efforts in the sector.

Star professor: Donald Zinyk, professor in family enterprise

Bocconi University/SDA Bocconi

The Milan-based business school has many links with the Italian family business community and is well respected among the global business world. A centre of excellence in family business studies and research.

Star professor: Guido Corbetta, professor of strategic management in family business

CUHK Business School

The Chinese University of Hong Kong set up a family business centre a few years ago and has established a reputation as a leading centre for teaching and research in the sector, particularly in relation to China and Hong Kong.

Star professor: Kevin Au, director of the Center for Family Business

China Europe International Business School/CEIBS

The Shanghai-based business school has been developing a family business program in the last few years, which is centred on its Kaifeng Center for Family Heritage.

Star professor: Jean Lee, professor in leadership and HR, and co-director of CEIBS Centre for Family Heritage


The Lillie-based business school has been educating the French elite of the country’s important family business sector for years. It has a family business centre, which provides the focal point for the school’s efforts in the sector

Star professor:  Denis Dauchy, professor of family business strategy

ESADE/University of Barcelona

ESADE is one of Spain’s leading business schools and an acknowledge centre for the study and research of family businesses.

Star professor: Alberto Gimeno, director of the international family business lab

Indian School of Business

The Hyderabad and Mohali-based business school teaches a management programme for family business executives. It has links with many of the companies that make up one of the most vibrant family business sectors in the world.

Star professor:  Kavil Ramachandran, executive director of the Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise

Harvard Business School/Harvard University

Arguably the world’s best known business school also has an excellent reputation when it comes to the study and research of family businesses. Its families in business courses are some of the the most popular among next generation members of family businesses from around the world.

Star professor: John Davis

Johnson Graduate School of Management/Cornell University

Cornell was elevated recently into the elite of family business schools with a generous grant from philanthropists John and Dyan Smith that create the Smith Family Business Initiative.

Star professor: Daniel Van Der Vliet, executive director at Smith Family Business Initiative

Jönköping International Business School

The Swedish business school is arguably the leading family business study and research centre in Scandinavia. Much of its work is coordinated through its Centre for Family Enterprise and Ownership (CeFEO).

Star professor: Mattias Nordqvist, director of the CeFEO

Kellogg School of Management/Northwestern University

The US business school has a centre for family enterprise and has a worldwide reputation for excellence in the family business world.

Star professor: John Ward, professor of family enterprise and co-director of the Center for Family Enterprises

Kennesaw State University/Coles College of Business

The Atlanta-based Kennesaw is well known in the family business studies and research world. That’s largely due to the Cox Family Enterprise Center, which is one of America’s oldest centres for family business studies and research.

Star professor: Joe Astrachan, Wachovia eminent scholar chair of family business and professor of management and entrepreneurship

IE Business School

The Madrid-based business school has strong links with the Spanish business community and produces an annual study on family businesses, which is well respected.

Star professor: Cristina Cruz Serrano, professor of entrepreneurship


Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, IMD has been educating the offspring of family business dynasties for years and is widely recognised as one of the best centres for family business expertise in the world. It has a dedicated family business centre and is also involved in the prestigious annual IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business Award.

Star professor: Joachim Schwass, professor emeritus of family business and founder of the Global Family Business Center at IMD.


One of the world’s best business schools, INSEAD has also an impressive family business pedigree. Its Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise is well respected and, beyond its educational function, also acts as a centre for promoting the role of family businesses in global economies.

Star professor: Morten Bennedsen, professor of economics and political science, and the André and Rosalie Hoffmann professor of family enterprise

London Business School

The UK’s highest ranked business school, according to the Financial Times, has traditionally been linked to the financial services sector given the predominance it plays in the London economy. But in recent years LBS has made a concerted effort to attract the sons and daughters of family business owners.

Star professor: Nigel Nicholson, professor of organisational behaviour

Saïd Business School/University of Oxford

In recent years Saïd has been developing closer relations with global family businesses and recently teamed up with Harvard Business School and the University of Peking to help and promote family businesses in China.

Star professor: Thomas Noe, professor of management studies

Singapore Management University

The Singapore university has a Business Families Institute and is recognised as the leading centre for family businesses in South-east Asia. It has also established many international connections with family businesses.

Star professor: Annie Koh, director of the Business Families Institute

University of Lancaster

The management school of the UK university is relatively new to the family business sector but is beginning to make a mark in the field. It has a Centre for Family Business, which is involved in teaching and research in the sector.

Star professor: Professor Alfredo De Massis

University of St.Gallen

The Swiss university and business school has a widely respected centre for family business, which focuses on teaching and research into the sector. It has links with many Swiss and international family businesses.

Star professor: Thomas Zellweger, director of the Center for Family Business

University of Vermont/School of Business Administration

A well known centre for family business studies and research, the University of Vermont’s MBA program has much on offer for the next generation of family business leaders.

Star professor: Pramodita Sharma, professor of family business

Wharton/University of Pennsylvania

Must come near to the top when it comes to family business studies and research, Wharton has a long and distinguished link to the family business and wealth communities. It coordinates much of this through its Global Family Alliance group. Particularly good in the area of family offices.

Star professor: Raffi Amit, professor of entrepreneurship and management

Witten-Herdecke University/Witten Institute for Family Business

The Witten Institute for Family Business is the leading centre for family business studies and research in Germany. It has a well established reputation and links with many of the country’s famed family businesses.

Star professor: Tom Rüsen, managing director of the Witten Institute for Family Business

Zeppelin University

Located in southern Germany near Lake Constance, Zeppelin University is one of the country’s most respected business schools. Its Friedrichshafen Institute for Family Businesses is recognised as a centre for excellence in the study and research into family businesses. The institute has links to many of Germany’s top family enterprises.

Star professor: Hermut Kormann, honorary professor of strategy and governance - family businesses