People

The Top 100 Family Influencers – Academics

Late last year, Family Capital sent out a survey to its readers asking them to nominate who they felt were the most influential individuals in the world of family enterprises. We were looking for a wide gambit of names from different backgrounds, both linked directly to family enterprises and those in an advisory role in the sector. We received more than 2000 responses. 

Through these responses and our own knowledge of the world of both family businesses and family office – indeed, the world of family capital – we were able to draw up a list of the Top 100 Influences. These are the individuals who our readers and Family Capital believe are the most influential people in the family enterprise world. No doubt some readers might think others merit inclusion and some on the list might not, but Family Capital believes the 100 names represent a pretty good cross-section of the Top Influencers in the sector. 

Given the length of the 100, we have broken them down into eight categories: Financiers; Businesses; Consultants; Investors; Lawyers; Executive Search; Fictional Characters; and Academics – which is our second group to feature in our twice-weekly series to run over the next month and a bit. To see our first list – Investorsplease click here

The names are in alphabetical order.

Marc-Michael Bergfeld 

Professor in global family firms, Munich Business School

Marc-Michael Bergfeld is among a growing number of younger family business academics that have gained a stellar reputation over the last 10 years. One of the youngest appointed business professors when he took the job at the Munich School of Business in the late 2000s, the German academic has since gone on to develop a thriving consulting business with Courage Partners. Much of his consulting is done in Asia and Latin America, and before the Covid pandemic, Bergfeld was known as one of the most travelled family business academics as flew across the world advising family enterprises. 

Bergfeld has been a consistent critic of his home country’s family business community slowness to adapt to the disruptive forces they all face. As he told Family Capital a few years ago: “Many Mittelstand companies are still looking inwards in terms of their markets and innovation, and relying too much on past success and the ‘Made in Germany’ fame. These companies will face a real threat to their existence. And this could be as many as 50% of them.”

Guido Corbetta

Professor of corporate strategy,  Bocconi University

Italy’s number one academic when it comes to the family businesses, Corbetta has developed a rightful reputation at the pantheon of his craft. Professor of corporate strategy at Bocconi University in Milan and chair of strategic management in family business, Corbetta also sits on the board of numerous family businesses in Italy. All this gives him unique insights into one of the most family business orientated economies in the world. 

 

Justin Craig

Professor of entrepreneurship, Bond University

With the retirement of Ken Moores, Craig is Australia’s foremost family business academic with a highly regarded international reputation as well. Taking up a professorship at Bond University in the Gold Coast, Australia last year, Craig spent four years as a family business professor at Kellogg School of Management, which further established his international credentials. Previously, he helped set up the Australian Centre for Family Business, and co-authored a few years ago with his mentor Moores: Leading a Family Business: Best Practices for Long-Term Stewardship, among many of his academic papers and publications. 

John Davis

MIT Sloan School of Management/Cambridge Family Enterprise Group

The academic who gave the world the Three Circles Model of Family Businesses, arguable the most influential theory on the organisation structure of a family business to date, Davis is considered one of the pioneers of family enterprise studies at business schools. For many years, his teaching was at Harvard Business School, but in 2018 he moved a few blocks away to teach at MIT, where he now leads the family enterprise programs at the Sloan School of Management. 

Along the road of his academic career, Davis has also developed a thriving consultancy business channelled through the Cambridge Family Enterprise Group. At CFEG, Davis has attracted a group of highly talented academics and other senior management experts to help develop the group’s global consultancy business. 

 

Dennis Jaffe

Professor emeritus, Saybrook University

Still very active in the world of family business consulting, Jaffe played an undisputed pivotal role in the evolution of family business studies at business schools and institutions in his more than 50 years of work connected to the sector. One of the founding members of the very influential Boston-based Family Firm Institute, Jaffe has recently turned his attention to a research project entitled 100-Year Family Enterprise research project. He also writes a regular column on family businesses for Forbes, as well as pursuing other consulting roles.  

 

Nadine Kammerlander

Chair/Professor, Family Businesses, WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management

Four years ago, Kammerlander made some prophetic remarks in a Family Capital ViewPoint about the digital economy and family businesses. The professor and chair of family business at the Institute of Family Business at WHU, Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany said: “Despite being everywhere, disturbingly, most family businesses are watching the digital phenomenon passively.” 

She added: “But if they don’t change this attitude and actively embrace digitalisation soon family-owned companies are unlikely to have a business in a few years time, let alone one to pass on to the next generation.” Four years later

Kammerlander has since gone on to cement her reputation as a heavyweight in the German business school community with particular reference to family enterprises. Her work has concentrated on many aspects of the family enterprise world, including the importance of the nexus between the sector and innovation. 

 

Ivan Lansberg

Director for family enterprise executive education programs, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University 

One of the three legends in the field of family business studies, the other two being professors John Davis and John Ward, Ivan Lansberg is an acknowledged great of the family enterprise academic world. Still associated with Kellogg School of Management, where he is the director for family enterprise executive education programs, Lansberg is also one of the co-founders of the advisory group Lansberg·Gersick & Associates. With considerable global experience in family businesses, those who nominated Lansberg say he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the sector as few others can. 

Jennifer Pendergast

Professor of Family Enterprise, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Pendergast’s prestige in the world of family business studies became even more noticed when she was recently made the inaugural John L. Ward clinical professor of family enterprise and director of the Center for Family Enterprises at Kellogg School of Management. 

Working for one of a handful of business schools in the world that have developed top expertise over many years and continuously in family enterprise studies and teaching, Pendergast has also plenty of practical experience to bring to her position. She previously gained top-level corporate and management consultancy experience as US leader for executive search firm Egon Zehnder. 

An acknowledged specialist in strategic planning and business governance, Pendergast is one of the few family business academics who’s also gained an in-depth knowledge of the family office world, as those who nominated her point out. 

 

Tom Rüsen

Managing director, Witten Institute for Family Business, Witten/Herdecke University

Managing director of the Witten Institute for Family Business at the Witten/Herdecke University in Germany, Rüsen is one of a group of German family business academics and consultants at the top of their field in Europe’s biggest economy.  

Rüsen has highlighted structural risks in family businesses in Germany. As he told Family Capital a few years ago: “It is well documented that the global transition of wealth is happening rapidly and the consequences of that transfer will be immense, not least in Germany. Here we are seeing many of the next generation of owners content to take on ownership of these businesses, but less happy to work on the operational side of them.” 

 

Pramodita ‘Dita’ Sharma

Professor, family business, Grossman School of Business, University of Vermont 

Acknowledged for her work in the family enterprise academia at multiple levels, Sharma has also worked hard to engage with students around the world in their family business studies. In 2013, the professor at Grossman School of Business introduced the now well established Family Enterprise Case Competition, which is gone on to be popular with students from across the world. Also, as editor of the prestigious Family Business Review for nearly 10 years, Sharma was instrumental in establishing the publication as one of the leading academic journals in the business world.   

 

Lauri Union

Executive director, Institute for Family Entrepreneurship, Babson College

Few family business academics come better qualified with real-world experience in the sector than Union. She took over the running of her family’s business Union Corrugating Company at just 27, turning its fortunes around as the company’s CEO. Her efforts in this respect were acknowledged in two Harvard Business School case studies.

Union joined Babson College two years ago, becoming founding executive director of the college’s innovation Institute for Family Entrepreneurship. Here Union has forged a greater understanding of how families can greater link their economic values with social ones as well, which has further helped to build her reputation as a formidable family business academic.  

 

Belén Villalonga

Professor of management and organizations, Stern School of Business, New York University

The professor of management and organizations at New York University’s Stern School of Business is one of the new wave of family enterprise academic experts at leading business schools who’ve gained a big reputation in recent years. Villalonga combines her skills as a family business expert with her joint professorship of finance at NYU. This gives her unique insights into areas like family offices, where Stern School of Business has developed expertise over the last few years through its family office council. 

 

Peter Vogel

Professor of family business and entrepreneurship, IMD

In recent years, Vogel has emerged as one of the most respected professors working in the world of family businesses. Last year, he was appointed the new director of IMD’s prestigious Global Family Business Centre. Vogel, whose full title is professor of family business and entrepreneurship, and is also the holder of the Debiopharm chair for family philanthropy, represents a big part of IMD’s efforts to drive the business school’s already well-established reputation in the family enterprise sector forward. 

Involved himself in startups, Vogel has combined his theoretical and real-world entrepreneurial skills to give unique insights into how family enterprises can better deal with the numerous disruptive forces they face in the world economy. 

As he told Family Capital last year: “The first family business program was started at IMD, and we want to build on those strong foundations, but at the same time grow in other areas. We are moving more into being a long-term, trusted learning partner for family enterprises.”  Those nominating Vogel say he’s part of a new wave of family business professors taking hold at the best business schools around the world. 

 

Subscribe

You will need a Premium Plus Subscription to access this database.

Exclusive news, analysis and research on global family enterprise and private investment offices.

Access to the most comprehensive fully interactive database on global family offices, principal investment offices, and family enterprises.

Check Deal Data, Senior Staff, and New Analysis on more than 500 family/principal investment and holding groups

Already have an account? Login

Subscribe

You need at least a Premium Subscription to read this article.

The most comprehensive information service on the global family enterprise world, featuring exclusive news, analysis, research and data on global family enterprises, family offices, and private investment offices.

Premium

£299

per year

  • Exclusive reports, analysis and commentary
  • Exclusive access to family/private investment office deal information
  • Exclusive interviews with principals and senior management of family/investment offices
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Premium+

£399

per year

  • Access to All of Premium
  • Access to all of FamilyCapital Analytics, our interactive database with more than 500 detailed profiles of family investment groups

More Info

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Already have an account? Login

You've reached the end.

Continue reading free articles by registering as a Member.
Or choose a Premium Plan.

Membership

Free

  • Exclusive reports, analysis and commentary
REGISTER NOW

Premium

£299

per year

  • Exclusive reports, analysis and commentary
  • Exclusive access to family/private investment office deal information
  • Exclusive interviews with principals and senior management of family/investment offices
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Premium+

£399

per year

  • Access to All of Premium
  • Access to all of FamilyCapital Analytics, our interactive database with more than 500 detailed profiles of family investment groups

More Info

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Already have an account? Login

Leave a Reply