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Research at CFE

The Center for Family Enterprise initiates and conducts research in three distinct but synergistic thematic areas. The theme-based approach enables us to focus on areas of cutting-edge scholarship and high practical relevance.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Business families are drivers of innovation and entrepreneurship, both through the legacy family firm and as direct and indirect investors in established companies or new entrepreneurial ventures. This research area explores the roles of family offices as active investors in entrepreneurial companies, as well as the founder to family transitions. In addition, our research focuses on how to maintain and develop the entrepreneurial capabilities of owner-families and their businesses across multiple generations.


Ownership & Governance

The role of families as owners, in particular how owners organize and exercise their involvement and influence in both private and publicly-listed companies, is an important research area. Our research efforts also focus on the professionalization of ownership and governance in growing and increasingly complex family enterprises. The growing importance of family office structures as a way of organizing ownership and long-term family control is of particular interest. We also explore the challenges and opportunities associated with succession and ownership transition.


Philanthropy & Impact Investment

The long-term orientation of most family enterprises and family offices can explain why they often focus on making an impact beyond financial performance. Key topics within this research area include how and why many business families seek to combine profit and purpose with the aim of developing sustainable business practices and integrating non-financial goals in the legacy of the family enterprises. Other key areas of of inquiry include the drivers of various forms of family philanthropy as well as how business families engage in impact investing.