Class Acts

Looking Ahead

Will university-affiliated family business forums continue sprouting at the breakneck pace of the past two years? Will every state university and private school eventually have one? Perhaps. "[Eventually,] we hope they become more closely connected to universities," says Judy Green, executive director of the Family Firm Institute, an international professional membership association that studies and advises family firms. Her reasoning: Family business needs to be recognized as a discipline worthy of serious study by university business departments. "But that [will] take time to achieve." Green points to three well-established programs that have close ties with universities: the unsponsored Family Business Center at Loyola University in Chicago, the privately endowed Family Business Program at the University of Oregon, and the sponsored Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University.

Exploring issues faced by family businesses is not done solely at the university level, however. Family business councils and forums independent of universities are springing up around the country (Family Firm Institute has a list of family business organizations). Such organizations tend to have a broader membership base and run shorter meetings, but their goals are similar to those of groups with university connections: providing support and top-notch instruction . . . and then giving members plenty of time to talk among themselves.

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This article was originally published in the December 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Class Acts.

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