The History of Family Enterprise

EXD 320-116 The History and Practice of Family Enterprises

3 Credit Hours

Paavo Hanninen

Purpose

Family owned enterprises have played a long and significant role in both world and U.S. economic history.   Many of the products and services used today were first envisioned and created by entrepreneurs who went on to establish and sustain business enterprises that would last for generations.  And yet, most family enterprises do not survive more than one or two generations.   Research indicates that upwards of one third of all family firms only last one generation, while fewer than that last beyond two generations.

But despite the difficulties they have faced, family owned firms have shaped much of our current world.

In this course, the histories of several, well known family enterprises will be studied. How they got started, how they adapted to their changing competitive environment and what lessons can be learned from their long term survival (or not!) will be examined.  Additionally, recommended techniques and strategies for family enterprise success will be reviewed in the context of the assigned family histories.

Learning Objectives

  1. To learn the history of several high profile family (Ford, Mars, Toyota et al) enterprises—both in North America and throughout the world.
  2. To understand the key issues affecting the multi-generational survival of family enterprises.
  3. To become familiar with techniques and strategies which increase the chances of multi-generational success of a family enterprise.