Global Center for Family Enterprise

The Global Center for Family Enterprise (GCFE) focuses on the interplay between the “family” and the “enterprise”. The Center’s research focuses on three main research areas: Sustainability, New Technologies and Innovation and Strategy and Governance in Family Enterprises. It is of utmost importance for the GCFE to take an interdisciplinary research approach by incorporating diverse perspectives (e.g. psychological, sociological, economic and legal) to examine family enterprise behavior. The Center’s research is mostly evidence-based and its goal is to achieve academic excellence while researching highly relevant topics. It is also the Center’s mission not only to create but to disseminate knowledge within Germany, Europe and the world.

Sustainability in family enterprise

How can family enterprises contribute to and benefit from sustainability to ensure their longevity?

We examine the theory, conceptual underpinnings, and implications of sustainability for family enterprises. We apply a multi-dimensional approach on (corporate) sustainability and provide insights on how family enterprises can generate long-term value for their owners and stakeholders fostering companies’ longevity. Thereby, we take responsible leadership, business, innovation practices, and forward-looking training activities as the basis for family enterprises’ sustainable development. More specifically, we aim to better understand how family enterprises contribute to solving the grand societal challenges of the 21st century, promote gender equality, and how they effectively pursue responsible business activities. We focus also our interest on investigating topics such as sustainable entrepreneurship. We aim to understand how families can sustain their business for the long-run and across generations and develop the competences to adapt to structural and environmental changes in terms of adjusting their human capital, cognitive skills, and corporate governance structure to changing environmental demands.

New technologies and innovation in family enterprises

How can family enterprises adapt and introduce new technologies of the 21st century?

New technologies, e.g., artificial intelligence (AI), digital technologies and block chain technology, are considered to be path-breaking drivers of organizational change and innovation in family enterprises. New ground-breaking technologies pose significant new challenges for organization in research and business, particularly with regard to responsible leadership, business and innovation practices, and social integrity. Family enterprises face the challenge to efficiently react to and shape these new technologies. We are interested in examining how family enterprises implement strategies, structures, and employee training using their unique competences to leverage the potential arising from these new technologies.
For instance, AI might lead to faster and more accurate decisions of managers while also having the ability to transform interactions between humans and AI within teams and organizations. We are interested in investigating how family enterprises can effectively deploy path-breaking technologies and aim to generate knowledge to how family enterprises of the 21st may look like. For example, we provide insights on managerial practices and strategies that help family enterprises to leverage disruptive technological changes, design technology-based forms of collaboration, and to effectively establish human-machine interaction.


Which strategies and governance structures help family enterprises to gain competitive advantage?

Family enterprises are characterized by a unique governance structure. Those enterprises need to sustain competitive advantages in rapidly changing business environments with high uncertainty and time pressure. While the specific governance constellations of family enterprises having ownership and management within the family might diminish e.g., owners’ impatience and managerial short-termism, and agency costs, issues may arise due to company succession, nepotism, stakeholder interactions, and family conflicts. We are thus interested in understanding how governance (i.e., corporate governance, ownership and family governance) can be strategically employed to achieve competitive advantage and effective resource deployment within family enterprises. Hence, we investigate for instance topics such as strategic ownership, ownership competence, corporate and contract governance, and contract negotiations to ensure family enterprises’ long-term success.





19 Jan '24
Publication Alert - New Research Article by Prof. Dr. Miriam Bird and Jannis von Nitzsch

We are very happy to announce a new publication of Prof. Miriam Bird and Jannis von Nitzsch (together with Ed Saiedi, BI Norwegian Business School) in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal (VHB A; FT50): The strategic role of owners in firm growth: Contextualizing ownership competence in private firms. Our research team investigated the strategic role of firm owners' competence in their firm growth. To test their hypotheses, they built a rich longitudinal dataset of 2,509 German owner-managed firms (denoting the famous "German Mittelstand") from 2011 to 2018. 

The main findings of the research paper are:


  • Owner-managers' competences matter for firms’ value creation! Both their matching and governance competences are positively related to firm growth.
  • Owner-managers in family firms face challenges in leveraging the benefits of their governance competence, possibly due to families' focus on "staying in control" and tendencies of nepotism.
  • The firm's reliance on owner-managers' competences decreases as firms age because non-routine tasks become less frequent and processes get more formalized.

With their research, the team contributes to the burgeoning research on the strategic role of firm owners in firm value creation, in particular by empirically operationalizing ownership competence, a recently emerging and much discussed construct in the literature, and by exploring the boundary conditions (i.e., owners’ family embeddedness and firm age) to the relationship between ownership competence and firms’ value creation. The study is a testament to the central role that owner-managers play in steering their firms toward firm growth, and opens avenues for business owners to reflect on their ownership competences.


The paper can be accessed here:

14 Nov '23
Prof. Lergetporer receives third-party funding from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)

Prof. Lergetporer receives third-party funding from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) for his project “Policy Making in the Tension Between Scientific Evidence and Public Opinion: Experimental Studies with Politicians”.

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Research Talks


On a regular basis, we invite internationally recognized researchers to present and discuss their newest research insights with our GCFE members. These research talks provide us with a unique opportunity to be at the verge of new research contributions. The research talks usually deal with topics related to entrepreneurship and family enterprise.


Past Research Talks



Prof. Dr. Vangelis Souitaris (Professor of Entrepreneurship at Bayes Business School London, UK): What if you leave me now? The short and long term consequences of founder exit after IPO. Research Talk on June 22, 2023 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Prof. Dr. Karl Wennberg (Barbara Bergström Chair in Educational Leadership and Excellence at the Department of Management and Organization at Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden): How diversified should our founding team be? Insights from simulating the tradeoff between performance and the risk of disruption. Research Talk on Apr 26, 2023 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Prof. Dr. Matthias Waldkirch (Assistant Professor at EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht and director of the new Entrepreneurship & Family Firm Institute (EFFI)): Research on  innovation and professionalization processes in family firms, dynamics around ownership and change, and how organizational phenomena unfold in digital spaces. Research Talk on Jan 24, 2023 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.



Prof. Dr. Xu Li (Assistant professor of Strategy and Innovation, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark ): Research on organizational hybridization. Research Talk on Nov 3, 2022 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Prof. Dr. Grégoire Croidieu (Professor of Entrepreneurship, Emlyon business school, France): Research on how institutional persistence unfolds. Research Talk on Oct 11, 2022 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Prof. Dr. Stephen Zhang (Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Adelaide, Australien): Too distressed to lead their businesses toward CSR activities: Entrepreneurs’ mental distress and their businesses’ CSR under the COVID-19 crisis. Research Talk on Sep 28, 2022 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Prof. Dr. Dietmar Fehr (Professor of Economics, University Heidelberg, Germany):Perceived Relative Wealth and Risk Taking. Research Talk on May 18, 2022 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.



Prof. Dr. Vangelis Souitaris (Professor of Entrepreneurship at Bayes Business School London, UK): Specialist versus generalist founders’ experience and fundraising at IPO. Research Talk on November 30, 2021 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Prof. Dr. Karl Wennberg (Department of Organization and Management at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden): Family Vulnerability and Gender Homophily in Male-Led Ventures. Research Talk on September 28, 2021 at TUM Campus Heilbronn.





Dr. Johannes Kleinhempel (University of Manchester, Presidential Fellow at the Institute for PMO Comparative & International Business): Cultural Roots of Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Second-generation Immigrants. Research Talk on October 20, 2020 at the TUM Campus Heilbronn.


Ed Saiedi (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Industrial Economics and Management): Turned Down in a Downturn? Real Effects of Not Securing Capital in the Global Financial Crisis. Research Talk on October 16, 2020 at the TUM Campus Heilbronn.

From Research to Knowlegde

Based on our recent publication "von Nitzsch, J., Bird, M. & Saiedi, E. (forthcoming). The strategic role of owners in firm growth: Contextualizing ownership competence in private firms. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal".





Project studies


Project studies can be either a research or a practical project carried out by a student team in collaboration with a company. The companies provide students with hands-on experience in the context of a specific project. A project study normally consists of teamwork of 2 to 5 students with a project duration of 3 months (full-time).


Find more about other project studies on the TUM Job Board.




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