Do family businesses need special attention from business educators? This article in the Telegraph comes soon after yet another toxic Italian family row at Bertone. Typical that the Telegraph runs its flash story with lots of Continental brand names – Gucci etc – relishing quotes such as: "The problem is that all the youngsters only know how to drive Porsches and go to night clubs". It is based on the announcement of a course at Milan’s Bocconi University: The course, called "How to Manage an Inherited Company", costs €3,600 (£2,764) per person, and there is a discount of a third if two members of the same family attend. So far, around 25 students have enrolled. That’s the trouble with so much of the writing about family businesses – it’s fascinated with glitz and inherited wealth and individuals whose name is the same as the famous brand. It’s Hello! with a gloss of business journalism. (Here’s one.) It set me off looking for real stories about business school courses that are targeted at UK family business owners – and who aren’t interested studying in Milan. Glasgow Caledonian University’s Family Business Centre is worth a look. The University of Gloucestershire specifically pays attention to family business owners in its MBA (and there’s a case study from one family business owner doing its part-time MBA – pharmacist Peter Badham, taking over from his mother at the family chain of chemist shops – in Director. There is a useful summary of current research at the London Business School. Let me know of any others.
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