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International education comes to the fore

The past year has seen exciting developments and activities take place for family businesses at IMD. The key focus remains (since the launch of Leading the Family Business, the first international educational programme for families in business) how to help family businesses become better at what they are doing. A number of research projects address this issue from different angles.

- What is the specific culture of a family business and how can this lead to a competitive advantage?
- What are the generational success strategies that have not only brought survival but substantial growth to larger, multi-generational family businesses?
- What are the most effective mechanisms to ensure that owning families add value to their business, even if no family member works in the business?

These are some of the important research issues that were addressed in depth by the IMD Family Business Faculty members and their dedicated Research Associates Team in 2003, within the IMD-Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch Family Business Research Centre. In addition, one particular IMD family business case attracted a lot of attention: it deals with the Bata shoe business, a large international group of companies based in Canada. Like many other multi-generational family businesses, a trust had been created in order to lock in ownership. This had been beneficial both for the family and the business over many decades. However, as markets changed the need for strategic adjustments grew. The key question this case addresses is: who is better placed to deal with fundamental corporate changes: trustees without a direct ownership motivation, or next-generation family members who are both competent and emotionally motivated to see the family business handed over in turn to their children?

The past year also saw the selection of the Bonnier Group from Sweden for the eighth annual IMD-Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch Distinguished Family Business Award. This award was created to recognise an outstanding multi-generational company, operating internationally, that excels in achieving family and business goals, emphasising the important global economic contribution made by family-owned businesses, and recognising best practices that will benefit others.  Award winners must have reached at least the third generation of family ownership and management with a solid record of financial performance and stability. In addition, only those companies that have demonstrated good corporate citizenship by making social contributions to the communities in which they operate are recognised. A distinguished committee of 23 personalities from family businesses and academia around the world nominate and select the candidate.

The Bonnier Group joins the distinguished global fraternity of past winners, including Lego (1996), Hermès (1997), Puig (1998), Henkel (1999), Zegna (2000), Murugappa (2001), and Johnson Family Enterprises (2002).

The continuing discussions around a number of cases of weak and failing corporate governance structures in public corporations in many parts of the world, have underlined the importance of fundamental values and solid long-term approaches towards managing businesses. More than ever can family businesses provide examples of profitable businesses that apply both long-term strategies and values based behaviour. This year's laureate, the Bonnier Group, provides insights into how a multi-generational family business can be structured and managed in order to maximise benefits for all stakeholders.

For 2004, IMD now offers two versions of its widely acclaimed family business educational programme, Leading the Family Business (LFB).

LFB I (25 June – 1 July 2004) is an outstanding learning event as the curriculum is enhanced by being part of IMD's renowned Orchestrating Winning Performance week.  As such, you will have the special opportunity to meet and network with participants from all over the world, participate in many different elective morning sessions on general management, the changing world, and personal development presented by a wide variety of distinguished IMD faculty. The afternoons are devoted entirely to family business topics for families in business.

LFB II (1-4 November 2004) focuses solely on family business challenges. While most attendees are family executives or family shareholders, we also welcome your non-family executives and independent directors. Both programmes are designed and directed by professors John Ward and Joachim Schwass. In addition, IMD runs private family business programmes both theme based and/or interest group based in order to meet the specific needs of a given family. 

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