MBA-EMBA Open Programme

Leadership of Family Firms: Navigating your way through the unique governance and strategic challenges of your family firm

General information

Teaching language: English
Offered by: Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
Department: Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship
Contact: Carolien Heintjes ( or Sonja van Staveren (
More information: Executive Education

Course Overview

RSM’s Leadership of Family Firms is a course open to MBAs, EMBAs and family business members. Bringing these three groups together offers a unique environment to engage in and discuss issues surrounding the unique governance and strategic challenges faced by family firms.

This course will equip you with the fundamental tools needed to prepare your business and your family for the future. It is custom designed to assist you by developing your understanding and ability to navigate through the challenges and critical issues surrounding governance and strategy in your own family business. Together with four of RSM’s top faculty members you will probe the key issues that face family businesses: the role of family values in firm decision making, internal and corporate governance, optimizing family firm financing, strategy and succession. Furthermore, we provide an opportunity to network, share and benchmark with other family firms who share the same concerns and are grappling with similar issues.

Learning Objectives

Using real-life case studies, active discussions, and networking activities, you will:

  • Develop an understanding of family firms’ unique strategic and governance challenges and how they differ across generations;
  • Become aware of business family dynamics through the three-circle model;
  • Investigate the implications of various succession models;
  • Expand your knowledge and understanding of alternative means of financing
  • Network, apply your learnings and discuss personal challenges with a group of peers from the family business community

Who should take this course

At some point in your professional lives you will most likely either work in or consult to family firms as: owners; family members who work or do not work within the business; non-family employees with or without ownership interests; consultants; investment bankers; or in other roles. This course aims to prepare you to work effectively and professionally in, and with, family firms.

 Program Format and Schedule

Leadership of Family Firms takes place during two weekends in October and consists of six interactive three-hour sessions. Each session is dedicated to a specific challenge unique to family firms.

There are no prerequisite requirements for this course. However, for the session on family firm finance you need a basic understanding of financial statements.

Organization & Teaching Methods

The approach taken is a combination of readings, lectures, guest speakers, videos, case analysis, class contribution, case memos, and a group project where you have the option of conducting either an analysis of a family business or the development of a draft of a teaching case on a family business topic of your choice. You should be willing to participate and engage actively in order to extract the most value from the course. As a result, a portion of your grade will be made up of class contribution (participation).

The format of classes will be that of active, engaged reading of the material followed by group discussion. Students are encouraged to bring their diversity of experiences, backgrounds, and interests to the class discussions. It will be assumed that students will read all required materials and will be prepared to contribute and discuss areas of interest. Classes will consist of both lectures and case studies that are based on real-life situations that have occurred with family firms.


  • Participants will be provided with a course package which contains the cases and the assigned readings. 
  • Recommended textbook: Poza, E. (2010). Family Business (III Edition). South-Western, Cengage Learning. Also available at: