When looking at the field of family business it is important to keep in mind that it is a relatively new field. It is only approximately 30 years old, which when compared to the study of management or ownership, makes it a new field of study with lots of research and practical experience to be gained.
It should be noted, however, that this field is taking great strides in becoming more prominent. First of all, many universities are now offering courses and even a specialization in family business such as the University of Alberta (Major/Minor in Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise and MBA courses in family enterprise), the Kellogg School of Management Centre for Family Enterprises (MBA programs), the Schulich School of Business (Specialization in Entrepreneurial and Family Business Studies) as well as many others. The number of universities offering these types of classes and specializations is growing every year.
Another sign that family business is becoming more popular and more important in the eyes of many is the development of case competitions specifically in the field of family business. This year represents the 2nd year of a worldwide family business case competition. The Family Enterprise Case Competition (FECC) welcomed 20 universities from 10 countries to compete in a round robin case competition from January 8 -11, 2014 in Burlington, Vermont. This year, I was given the opportunity to work with the Sprott team (Carleton University) in order to help them prepare for this case competition. This was the first year that Sprott sent a team to the FECC. They came in second in their division and narrowly missed the opportunity to claim the wild card position, which would have allowed them to advance to the final round. Our goal for next year is to make it in the final round. These case competitions not only bring schools from around the world together, but also expose students to a field of study they may not have had the chance to experience.
It has become clear that family businesses differ greatly from their non-family counterparts. Family businesses are the backbone of our canadian economy as well as the worldwide economy and therefore clearly warrants a growing field of study. In the past decade, the business of family business has gained traction and has been incorporated into many curriculums in business schools. In the future, I believe this trend will continue until all universities offer either a specialization or courses in family business.