There are currently two courses that focus specifically on family business. These courses are open to all students, graduate, and undergraduate, although the instructor reserves the right to determine final admission into class.

Fall semester 

NBA 6720 –Family Enterprise Management & Governance

Instructor:  Rustom Desai 

Most companies around the world are controlled by their founding families, including more than half of all public corporations in Europe, and more than two-thirds of those in Asia. Even in the United States, where ownership dispersion is at its highest, founding families exercise a significant degree of control over more than half of all public corporations. This course explores the challenges and opportunities created by family leadership and ownership. This elective is designed for students who may be involved in family firms and closely held companies in a variety of roles: joining either their own family’s or someone else’s firm, and students who will do business with family firms, consult with them, invest in them, work with them in private wealth management, mergers, and acquisitions, banking, consulting, etc. Through case studies, lectures, student projects, and guest speakers, the course provides students with exposure to the unique finance, governance, and management issues faced by family firms, and ways in which these issues can be addressed. The course provides students with a framework for analyzing how family ownership, control, and management affect value, and whether and how more value can be created for the various stakeholders. The course brings an integrated financial and managerial perspective to the study of family firms focusing on the financial and corporate governance aspects of family control and their managerial implications.

Spring semester

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

Instructor:  Daniel G. Van Der Vliet 

Family businesses are the predominant form of business organization in the world contributing an estimated 70-90% of the global GDP. In the United States, family enterprises contribute over 64% of GDP and generate 62% of employment. Globally, family and privately held enterprises comprise between 90 – 98% of all businesses in certain economies. These firms are distinguished from other enterprises by the significant influence of the controlling family on the creation, continuity, mode, and extent of growth, and exit of a business. This course aims to prepare students to work effectively and professionally, in and with family firms, to launch and create cross-generational value and wealth in family firms.

NBA 5920 – Family Businesses in Italy Trek

During spring break 2024, the Smith Family Business will be leading a student trek to Italy to explore many significant family businesses, Italian history, and culture.

Why Italy? In Italy, there are estimated to be around 784,000 family businesses – more than 85% of the total number of businesses – constituting around 70% of employment. Italian family businesses are also set apart by their longevity: of the world’s 100 oldest businesses, 15 are Italian and, of these, 5 – Fonderie Pontificie Marinelli (founded in 1000), Barone Ricasoli (1141), Barovier & Toso (1295), Torrini (1369) and Marchesi Antinori (1385) – are among the top ten oldest family businesses still active today.

Additional Recommended Courses 

There are several courses within the Cornell business curriculum which will help to inform those that work in, for or with a family business.  Classes may have pre-requisites and additional instructor permissions may be necessary.