The Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the network of owners, leaders, and alumni that work in, with or for a family business.

Founded in 2014 from a generous gift from John and Dyan Smith, the Smith Family Business Initiative provides education, networking and new knowledge for family business owners, successors, and students from across the globe.

Connected Conversations: Family Businesses Contribution to the U.S. Economy: A Closer Look

Wednesday, April 14 from 12pm – 1pm ET

Pieper and Soldano Families in Business Conference

A quarter of a century since the publication of bull’s eye framework, the 2003 update to “Family Businesses Contribution to the U.S. Economy” is still one of the most cited papers when it comes to the impact of family businesses on the overall U.S. economy. In 2020, Torsten Pieper and a team of researchers decided to revise and improve the original findings of Astrachan and Shanker (2003) on the basis of more recent data. These findings measure the influence of family businesses across three categories, defined by the degree of family involvement in the businesses. As research on family businesses has developed greatly over the past decades, there was a strong likelihood that Torsten and his team could derive the update on recent data from extant empirical research. However, that assumption was disproved after an examination of the existing literature. As a consequence, this present update relies in part on empirical data collected specifically for this purpose. With support from Family Enterprise USA, this research is timely and critical in the face of a global pandemic and dramatic economic disruptions over the past 20 years.

The Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell BusinessFeed

A large group poses for a photo in a reception space
April 28, 2020

Knowledge into action: Preparing the next generation of family business leaders

The Smith Family Business Initiative (SFBI) understands family business—how it operates, what makes it unique, and the impact it has on the global economy.

Fisk Johnson in a diving suit above water holding plastic waste in the ocean
March 23, 2020

Fisk Johnson, CEO of SC Johnson: A champion in the crusade against plastic ocean waste

SC Johnson CEO Fisk Johnson talks about why ending plastic ocean waste is important to him, his company, and human life on this planet.

Christina Keller portrait
February 25, 2020

Profile in Leadership: Christina Keller, MBA ’07, president and CEO at Cascade Engineering

Christina Keller, CEO and president of Cascade Engineering, upholds and updates a family tradition of do-good capitalism.


Family Business Blog

March 30, 2021

Student Profile: Sanveer Uppal

Name: Sanveer Uppal Program: Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management Hometown: New Delhi, India Family Business: Textiles Post-Cornell Employer: TBD Favorite Hobbies: Traveling and Golf What makes family business unique? Family business is unique because it firmly follows the saying “You reap what you sow.” The success of a family business is based on the … Continue reading Student Profile: Sanveer Uppal

February 26, 2021

Cornell student profile: Heena Sadhwani

Name: Heena Sadhwani Program: Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management Hometown: Alpine, NJ Family Business: Jewelry Manufacturing Post-Cornell Employer: TBD Favorite Hobbies: Reading, Bollywood Dance What are some of the benefits of being part of a family business? Benefits of being part of a family business are the range of areas that you can observe … Continue reading Cornell student profile: Heena Sadhwani

December 28, 2020

A Letter to My Family (Business)

A student in the Leaders in Family Enterprise class took the opportunity of reflecting on the numerous speakers and ideas presented throughout the semester to compose this letter to the members of their family business in the hopes of sparking a meaningful conversation about their future together. This is what that student shared. Dearest Family, … Continue reading A Letter to My Family (Business)