NBA 5820 – Leadership in Family Enterprise: In Practice and Theory

Does your family own a business? Are you interested in starting a business? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions or are looking for an interesting way to spend Wednesday evenings, join NBA 5820: Leadership in Family Enterprise: In Practice and Theory. It is a new, one-credit course open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Class starts on February 17th and is an opportunity to hear speakers from MIT, The Pike Companies, Saranac Brewery, and more. E@D had the opportunity to speak to Daniel Van Der Vliet to learn more:

Daniel Van Der Vliet, Executive Director of the Smith Family Business Initiative (SFBI) at Johnson (JGSM).

Daniel Van Der Vliet, Executive Director of the Smith Family Business Initiative (SFBI) at Johnson (JGSM).


Why was this course founded?

Family businesses are the dominant form of enterprise, not only here in the United States, but even more so globally. By most estimates, family owned enterprise comprise between 80-90% of all businesses globally. With that in mind, it is altogether likely that most individuals will either find themselves working in, with or for a family business at some point in their careers. Research has revealed that family businesses tend to be more entrepreneurial, are more patient, and even outperform their publicly owned counterparts. However, they are also challenged; by family relationships, by hyper-competition and often family-centric decision making. This colloquium type course will expose students to some of the leader thinkers and doers in family business, what they have learned or are learning, and what has allowed them to succeed over multiple generations.

What sort of students should/should not take this course?

This class will be a mix of undergraduate and graduate students. Even though there is not an inordinate amount of reading in this class, students will need to be prepared by understanding who the weekly speakers are, what their business or industry is, and be able to understand what makes working within a family business equally challenging yet rewarding. This course will require students to pay attention; it will take more than just showing up and listening to a great story each week.

What should students be most excited for in the course?

New ideas, creative thinkers and successful leaders are all exciting elements of the course. We will cover everything from construction to emerging markets to great tasting beer brewed right here in CNY.