The IFERA 2019 Award Ceremony

September 16, 2019

Once again, IFERA 2019 was able to match the highest expectations. Hosted by the University of Bergamo and the Centre for Young and family Enterprises (CYFE) in the old, medieval part of the town, the Conference mixed a vibrant academic environment with a charming, historical location. Organized with the aim of “feeding the fire of entrepreneurship”, IFERA 2019, indeed, became a fertile ground to support the development of theories of the enterprising family and to favor the disciplinary cross-fertilization of family studies and entrepreneurship fields. Both family business scholars and practitioners join their efforts to recognize and discuss the challenges related to family issues, which should be considered as complementary to the much more discussed business ones in fostering entrepreneurial potential of family firms. Beside the intense program of consortia, PDW and parallel sessions and the inspiring keynote speeches of Howard Aldrich, Jay Barney and Nadine Kammerlander, the conference has also offered the chance for networking during its dedicated social program, which culminated in the “glowing” Gala Dinner. Located in the charming Piazza Vecchia, in the heart of Bergamo old town, the Gala Dinner on June 20th became a wonderful moment to enjoy exquisite food and talk with friends and collogues. During the Award Ceremony, thanks to the contribution of our eminent juries, six awards have been assigned as follows: A first prize for the “CYFE – UNIBG” Best Conference Paper Award has been awarded to Chris Graves, Henry Shi and Francesco Barbera and their study entitled “Family-oriented non-economic objectives and the internationalization of family firms: Evidence from Australia”. Drawing on a socioemotional wealth perspective of behaviour of family businesses, the authors argue that greater attention needs to be given to the influence of a family’s non-economic wealth objectives on international behavior. Using survey data collected on over 300 Australian family firms, they examine the influence of family-oriented non-economic objectives on the family firm’s extent of the international involvement of the family firm. The results suggest that business families which emphasise family-oriented non-economic objectives are more likely to exhibit a lower attitudinal commitment towards international expansion, which in turn, determines the level of international involvement of family firms. Results also suggest that the extent of international involvement of the family firm has a significant negative effect on the level of achievement of family-oriented non-economic objectives. The “DIGIP – UNIBG” & “STEP” Best Paper on Conference Theme prize has been assigned to Michela Floris and Cinzia Dessì for their paper “Entrepreneurship Orientation in Family Firms. An Exploratory Study”. Listening to the voices of 30 family firm owner-managers through 60 interviews and building on the assumptions of the Psychological Ownership Theory, this exploratory study uses a qualitative method, through an inductive and interpretivist approach, with the aim to show the different entrepreneurial orientations in family firms. Thirdly, the “SAGE” Best Teaching Case was awarded Ricardo Aparicio for his case study entitled “The Carreño Family”, which describes the attempts of a family to overcome a complicated past and a dysfunctional interaction as partners and siblings. Six brothers and sisters are trying to overcome conflict and resentment, while they try to figure out the […]

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PhD Visiting: Directions for use

May 15, 2019

The visiting period is considered one of the most-awaited moments in a PhD student life, as it usually provides: the opportunity to focus on personal research activities in a different environment and the support of an external scholar. However, choosing the right professor, the right group of researchers, as well as the hosting institution mostly results in an inevitable challenge. Given the wide range of possibilities available, this article aims to provide a few insights about the PhD visiting period by sharing three different perspectives. Our hope is to help PhD students to prepare and fully enjoy this potentially amazing experience. Our insiders for this article (which we deeply thank) are: Liliana Dinis, second year PhD student at Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon, who is currently spending a visiting period of two weeks within the Centre for Family business Management, at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. Paola Rovelli, Assistant Professor at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, who engaged in two visiting periods abroad during her second year of PhD, one at Copenhagen Business School and the second within the Institute of Strategy, Technology and Organization at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Jasper Brinkerink, post-doc researcher at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, who spent two months of his last year of PhD at King’s College in London. Enjoy the reading! Which criteria did you use to choose the professor/institution to visit? Liliana: I was looking for a specific group of researchers working in the family business field as I wanted to collaborate with someone expert on the topic, so to learn as much as I can. Therefore, I would say that I targeted more the professor than the institution itself. Paola: First of all, it is worth mentioning that I’ve received a great support by my supervisors in choosing the right professors and the right institutions in my field of research, organizational design. The selection criteria have been mainly based on the fit in terms of research interests. Jasper: I looked for a specific professor who was working on entrepreneurship and innovation in family business and who published papers with specific methodologies I was interested in, plus I actually like London and the idea of spending a couple of months there. You don’t have to close your eyes thinking that you are going to work 24/7 with a professor, as you’ll probably also get to know people and experience a new context, so it is equally important to choose a place where you can both focus, locking yourself in the office, but also enjoy the surrounding environment. What expectations did you have when you planned your visiting period? Have your expectations been matched? Liliana: I want to know how a family business centre works, to collaborate with the team and with the leading professor. Moreover, my specific aim is receiving feedback on the data I’m analyzing. Finally, I want to start creating a network within the family business community, to share my research interests and enlarge my perspectives. Paola: As my first year of PhD was really busy with the teaching and other related activities, my first expectation […]

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A taste of family entrepreneurship: Marcello Persico

April 15, 2019

Founded in 1976, Persico Group is a well-regarded Italian multinational company primarily engaged in the Automotive, Industrial and Marine industries as a provider of a full range of services: from concept to design, engineering and manufacturing of prototypes, models, moulds, automation systems and turnkey yachts. Persico also operates in other industries, including Aerospace, Healthcare and Architecture. With its headquarters and main production facilities located in Bergamo (Italy), Persico has key production and sales units in the USA and México to serve its customers worldwide. Ladies and gentlemen meet Marcello Persico. What does Persico do and which is your role within the organization? Persico Group is mainly working within the automotive business, we produce moulds and automotive equipment. We don’t produce single components, but all the equipment and machineries designed for their production. I’m both Persico Group’ CFO and the manager in charge of Persico Marine, a unit dedicated to the production of racing boats and performance sailing yachts for private customers. When you think about your business, can you talk about a long-term perspective? My opinion is that we should always grow, because the bigger you are the more you can invest in innovation and technology, as well as in new markets. I consider growth the necessary condition to survive in a global market. Family firms are well-known to give value to non-economic values. Do you agree with that? Yes, I totally agree. As a matter of fact, my father never attends meetings when we talk about the economics, but he loves to join meetings about new products, new markets, new strategies and, in general, new perspectives. Moreover, we value our human resources and the way they run their jobs, both in terms of principles and values, which should be aligned with our organizational culture. Three very important questions now: Casoncelli o Scarpinocc? Scarpinocc. Polenta Classica or Taragna? Taragna. Val Brembana o Val Seriana? Val Seriana, no doubts. Do you think family-firms can be considered more risk-adverse than non-family firms? I can say that we consider ourselves highly risk-takers. Indeed, in the past, we decided to make investments even before completing the risk-analysis on the investments themselves. Anyway, nowadays it is important to find the right balance between feelings and numbers. A paradox in family business’ academic literature: family firms are better in terms of capability to innovate, but they have less willingness to innovate. So, even if they are reluctant to innovate, once they do it, they do it better than non-family firms. Based on your experience, do you agree with this statement? Personally, we are positively oriented toward innovation, with no restrictions, promoting innovation within the company and empowering our internal resources to innovate since we believe it is a crucial driver for business growth. Which is the main challenge for the future of Persico Group? As we are very fragmented both in terms of organizational and family structure, we often face the challenge to align our governance with the family in a very efficient way, being able to combine innovation willingness with innovation capability.   *Casoncelli: Stuffed pasta with mincemeat, parmesan, amaretti and other secret ingredients served […]

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A taste of family entrepreneurship: Michele Scaglione

March 18, 2019

Maglificio R. Scaglione Srl is a family-managed company founded in the 1960s in Bergamo, Italy. The business mainly focuses on the production of knitwear with a major expertise in cashmere wool. While targeting a top-quality level market. Maglificio Scaglione is a small and creative environment with a long-term experience in a luxury niche of the textile industry. What Maglifico Scaglione does and what’s your role in the business? Maglificio Scaglione includes two different businesses: on one side it is a knitwear supplier for many high-level brands while, on the other, it manages its own fashion collection called Scaglione, which is distributed all over the world through its own shops and in partnership with other retailers. I just joined my own family business after many years abroad and I am now part of the third generation, together with my sister. Talking about my role in the business, I consider myself absolutely multitasking at the moment, even if I’m mainly working on coordinating the two souls of the company, being a knitwear producer and a recognized fashion brand at the same time. I am still leveraging on my recent working experience in London as it allows me to be detached from the family dynamics within the business and to be able to keep an external perspective and highlight potential issues to be solved. Family firms differentiate themselves from non-family firms as they value not only financial but also socio-emotional wealth? Do you agree? Absolutely! In our particular case, as a family, we feel constantly emotionally involved in the business. Indeed, our name is connected to our brand so we can’t allow any brand dilution as it won’t just affect the brand, but also the company reputation. When you think about your business, can you talk about a long-term perspective? We strongly believe in a long-term perspective as we are investing efforts and money in our future. My recent decision of joining the family business is connected to the firm continuity, a strong value for us. But again, I want to stress that my experience outside the company was crucial to gain managerial expertise and to improve my capabilities of looking forward, strengthening our core competencies while spotting new business opportunities. Let’s switch to funny questions! Casoncelli* o Scarpinocc*? Casoncelli, for sure. Even if Casoncelli and Scarpinocc look very similar, the meat inside Casoncelli makes the difference! Polenta Classica o Taragna***? Polenta taragna, the cheese makes the polenta taragna tastier than its classic version. Family firms are considered more risk-adverse if compared to non-family firms? In respect to your experience, do you agree with this statement? I strongly agree. I perceive the risk aversion from two different points of view. From a financial perspective, every single investment is pondered as we want to use our own internal capital. It means that we will directly bear the consequences of a potential wrong investment, and when I say directly, I mean that the family will make sacrifices to re-invest the capital within the business. On the other side, the communication perspective already mentioned above is very risk-sensitive as well. As I’ve already explained, we expose […]

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A taste of family entrepreneurship: Marco Manzoni

February 15, 2019

While waiting for the next IFERA Conference in Bergamo, we thought to provide a taste of the vibrant family business scene of the city. The first entrepreneur we would like to present is the Executive Vice-president of NTS S.p.A., a family business dedicated to the construction of moulds and the moulding of items made of plastic material, both thermosetting and thermoplastic. Ladies and Gentlemen meet Marco Manzoni. What NTS does and what’s your role? Plastic is a gigantic industry that goes from the BIC pen to plastic components combined with carbon. NTS S.p.A. positions itself in the production of plastic materials with resin and reinforcing fibers, such as glass-fiber and carbon-fiber. This product is called “recomposite” and is sold to industrial solutions, as electro mechanic, automotive and electric engines, in a highly technical environment and mainly B2B. I am part of the third generation of the business, together with my brother and my cousin. Currently I am managing the company together with my aunt, but the next generation is almost ready to get involved. When you think about your business, can you talk about a long-term perspective? Absolutely yes, as we are strongly involved in the succession planning, trying to manage it in advance and to maintain rationality with a special focus in keeping divided the two systems, the family and the business, as they have different characteristics and objectives. Indeed, we’ve coined a new mantra related to this process that we even spread throughout social media: “Company is a public good with private capital”. Our aim is to underline the conception of the company as a superior good, and business continuity as a crucial objective to pursue. If a family member will not be able to manage the company in the future, we will hire an external manager, as the company health is everyone’s main goal. Family firms differentiate themselves from non-family firms as they value not only financial but also socio-emotional wealth? Do you agree? Socio-emotional wealth is taken into consideration every day, always keeping in mind that the long-term objective is the company health. At the moment, we don’t have any “family agreement” on succession, since the company future governance is well oriented on my person, and all the board members agree on that. A couple of funny questions now! Casoncelli* o Scarpinocc*? I prefer Casoncelli as the taste of Casoncelli is not comparable to Scarpinocc. On one side, Scarpinocc contain very noble ingredients, to be considered environmentally friendly, as they all are discarded ingredients. On the other side, Casoncelli taste much better! Polenta Classica o Taragna***? Polenta Taragna is my favorite, I can easily eat it almost every day. Family firms are considered more risk-adverse if compared to non-family firms? In respect to your experience, do you agree with this statement? I agree, but only partially. Family firms handle risks every single day, but I agree on the general principle that they carefully evaluate each single expense, becoming somehow more risk adverse. Nevertheless, I would see it in a different perspective, as family firms decide to make an investment only after a deep analysis of all […]

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10 Things To Know About Bergamo

January 21, 2019

While you are getting ready for your next trip to Bergamo, we thought you might appreciate some curiosities about this beautiful city and its region. Oh, and please, don’t forget you are in Italy! Do I really need to say more? Thanks to its Venetian walls Bergamo has been recently elected World Heritage Site Bergamo is divided in two parts: Città Alta (Upper Town) and Città Bassa (Lower Town) “Polenta” which is one of the most popular local dishes, is a corn based porridge that goes pretty well with everything (especially cheese!) You can reach the Upper Town by bus, by funicolare or (highly recommended) climbing some very old stairs while enjoying the best views of the city If you fancy some exploration you can’t miss a trip to Lake Endine and Iseo and, if you are a mountain lover, there is plenty to hike on the beautiful Orobian pre-alps Every night at 10pm – for 360 years – the Bell Tower has chimed 100 times: marking the time of the closure of the city (relax, they don’t close it anymore) They say that the proud Bartolomeo Colleoni, our greatest leader, was very strong and endowed with a particular intimate… three and not two of his personal attributes. The Chapel dedicated to him displays his “tri-balled emblem” everywhere. The green hills around the city are home to the smallest DOCG in Italy, where Moscato di Scanzo is produced. This sweet wine is so precious that has been even served on the tables of Empress Catherine II of Russia. San Pellegrino, in the Brembana Valley, is home to the most famous mineral water in the world. At 1,750 meters above sea level, in Valbondione in the Seriana Valley, you’ll find the Serio waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in Italy. 300 meters of pure natural show! For more information please visit:

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One year of IFERA

December 14, 2018

During the past year, the International Family Enterprise Research Academy has been working on a number of different projects with the main objective to increase its value proposition to members as well as the family business field at large. In this last article of 2018, we would like to provide an overview of what has been done and to express our deep gratitude to the amazing people that made all this possible. NEW WEBSITE & MEMBERS BENEFITS Active from February 2018, the new website has been designed to allow members to proactively engage with IFERA all year long. As a result, the users are growing on a steadily base, showing a constant engagement from the IFERA 2018 Conference onward. Since the launch of the new website, the average number of weekly visits is 273, with peaks of 600 visitors during Conference sensitive dates and Newsletter releases. Special thanks for this project go to Ramia El Agamy and her team at Orbis Terra Media. Ramia guided us through this journey with patience, creativity and great professionalism. Special features of the new website are: The IFERA blog, developed to provide the Family Business Community with interesting contents and updates. Special thanks go to Carlotta Benedetti (our content contributor) for her great ideas and endless energy. The Members Area, designed to facilitate contacts among our community is the point of access of all services dedicated to IFERA members. We take the opportunity to warmly encourage all members to update their social profile on the reserved area. The Buddy Review service, created to submit work-in-progress for friendly review through the IFERA website and obtain feedback and guidance toward publication in leading academic journals from peer researchers and experienced family business scholars. The purpose of the new IFERA Buddy Review system is to support each other in conducting rigorous, relevant research in the family business field, to activate our community and boost collegiality by providing an easily accessible platform to facilitate feedback and collaboration among family business researchers throughout the year. Special thanks go to our Research and Publications Committee, specifically to Unai Arzubiaga, Jasper Brinkerink and our Committee Director and Board Member Josip Kotlar for their great commitment and their willingness to make things always better, The Education Resources, dedicated to share and spread educational material among members and non-members. Special thanks go to Alfredo de Massis and Josip Kotlar for providing us with useful data from their article “Learning resources for family business education: A review and directions for future developments.” (De Massis, A., & Kotlar, J. (2015). Learning resources for family business education: A review and directions for future developments. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(3), 415-422.) The IFERA Monthly Newsletter, featuring the latest article from our Blog, sharing upcoming events, new membership benefits and calls for jobs and papers. The IFERA Newsletter is currently sent out to over 1300 subscribers with a 34% opening rate. AACSB MEMBERSHIP IFERA is now a member of the AACSB Business Education Alliance. AACSB International is a global association of leaders in education and business dedicated to support and advance the quality of business education […]

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TED talks: an opportunity worth exploring

November 15, 2018

The contemporary world is facing a technology revolution where changes and innovations are the basis for progress as well as the cause for multi-contextual disruptions. People’s lives are becoming more flexible and connected with a consequent need for faster and more impactful ways to learn and communicate. As the main source of knowledge diffusion, academic institutions and scholars are facing a critical change in needs. Reaching different audiences, raising the public interest and being able to address practical issues are becoming impellent ambitions for the entire academic community. The use of tailored programs, distance learning and AI based education paths are just a few of the many innovations happening in the education system, as knowledge sharing is not limited to paper sheets anymore, the world wide web is the mean to a more effective impact of research: ladies and gentlemen, meet TED TED talks are defined as showcases for speakers presenting great, well-formed ideas in less than 18 minutes and they can be seen as an opportunity for scholars from two different perspectives: gaining and spreading ideas. Firstly, Ted talks can be seen as a novel source of inspiration able to deliver interesting insights on different phenomena, as most of the speeches depict intriguing and usually thought-provoking stories narrated by guest speakers ranging from scientists to magicians. I personally picked up unusual intuitions on the concept of authenticity – one of my research interests – while listening to the writer Chiamamanda Ngozi Adichie, who uses the fascinating metaphor of the single story to describe the issues she faced in portraying authentic African characters in her novels (be amazed yourself here). Another inspiring talk is given by the artist Raghava KK, who pushes the audience to “shake” their perspective through the use of a children’s book for iPad. Through the use of painting, sculpture, installation, film and iPad stories, Raghava KK is able to link art with his challenging opinions on identity, conformity, gender, celebrity and ceremony (see for yourself here). The second opportunity offered by TED talks is the possibility to communicate ideas and concepts, using a simple and immediate format, able to higher the audience’s intellectual adrenaline and to ignite a change in perspective, which is well express by TED slogan “Ideas worth spreading”. A great example of using the formula of simplified, ironic and authentic storytelling in order to confute the idea that the education system is structured to stimulate students’ personal talents is given by Ken Robinson talk entitled “Do school kill creativity?” (here the link). Ken Robinson’s talk, indeed, represents not only the perfect speech prototype, but also a powerful mean to reach an extremely vast audience (the video collected more than 50 million views in 12 years). The family business community has already exploited this new approach, in particular through TEDx events (better explained below), where both professors and entrepreneurs alternate their findings and personal experiences on stage. TED global instead, hosted just one significant contribution offered by Vikram Bhalla, a consultant at BCG, entitled: “Family businesses are here to stay and thrive”, where he reported a conversation he had with a friend, owner of […]

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A snapshot on Summer Schools

October 15, 2018

In recent years, all academic fields have witnessed a large increase in the offer of methodological and subject-specific courses. These courses, better known as summers schools, are short academic programs held over the summer months and are usually offered to PhD students, postdocs and graduate students to engage in full-time, intensive classes related to a chosen subject or a methodological approach. In addition to it, they usually include extracurricular activities designed to encourage networking and stimulate the development of new research collaborations as well as cultural and social events. Given the numerous possibilities for researchers to deepen their knowledge on specific topics and research methodologies, in this article, by sharing some experiences of me and my colleagues and discussing some additional options offered by other institutions, I hope to provide some helpful insights into the world of summer schools. As a first year PhD student about to start my qualitative data collection, I decided to participate the AIDEA Capri Summer School, a course organized by the Italian Academy of Business Administration and Management, which took place from the 10th to the 14th of September on the charming Island of Capri and focused on applying qualitative research methods. On one side, the course program was very intense, combining plenary lectures, roundtable groups and seminar discussions and covering epistemological issues, data collection methods and different qualitative analytical techniques. On the other side, the schedule was structured in order to concentrate most of the activities within the first part of the day, allowing the participants to enjoy the wonderful location and organize visits to many cultural attractions. Overall, the course was extremely useful in explaining the relevance, challenges and implications of applying various qualitative methods and I particularly appreciated the guidance of highly experienced scholars from different institutions and their willingness to engage in creative conversation and to provide precious suggestions for my own research project. The course would be particularly useful to everyone looking for a thought-provoking experience, willing to reflect on the epistemological assumptions of its own research and, at the same time, interested in all the different approaches of the qualitative method. More details can be found here: A different but equally helpful perspective comes from the University of Essex summer school on “Longitudinal Data Analysis” at, (9th-20th of July 2018). The course focused on micro panel data management and analysis using Stata. The participants, divided in groups of approximatively 15 people, were asked to follow theoretical sessions and work through practical examples using Stata as a statistical package on different datasets. The two weeks has been described as an intense period, starting with theoretical background in the morning, practical activities in the afternoon and readings and reworking in the evening. The course ended with a final presentation, where participants had the chance to explain their results, while receiving peer-feedbacks and advices from the professor and the tutors. Beside the course itself, attendants enjoyed the possibility of living in a stunning campus and the social events organized in connection with the summer school. This course has been described as a very productive experience to gain new skills and to […]

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The IFERA 2018 Award Ceremony

September 18, 2018

Hosted by the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in the beautiful city of Zwolle, the IFERA 2018 Conference has been able to gather once again the family business community to discuss the effects of radical technological changes in the family business environment, as well as major social, economic and political changes in modern society. Enriched by some enlightening keynote speeches given by Jospeph H. Astrachan, Timothy S. Mescon, Kimberly D. Elsbach and Josip Kotlar, and characterized by an intense program of parallel sessions, the conference has also left some space for networking activities and some usual IFERA fun. Among the social events, the Gala Dinner on July 5th has emerged as an outstanding night. The venue “Raw Space”, a converted industrial space now cultural platform of the famous artist Ronhald A. Westerhuis,, has been the perfect setting to enjoy delicious food and friendly chatting. During the Award Ceremony, thanks to the contribution of our eminent juries, six awards have been assigned as follows: The winner of The “Province of Overijssel” Best conference paper award, “Risk-taking and Financial Distress in Family Business” has been co-authored by Francesco Chirico, Massimo Baù, Luis R. Gómez-Mejia and Geoffrey Martin. The study aims to understand the financial consequences of family owners’ loss aversion regarding the non-financial utility, they derive from the family control, arguing that socioemotional wealth lead family firms to take less risk than non-family firms. Their findings show that family firm risk aversion leads family firm to underperform non-family firm in distressed situations (worst among the best) and outperform non-family firms in non-distressed situations (best among the worst). Moreover, they find that family firms extract higher financial returns from risk taking than non-family firms when in financial distress. The “IFERA” Best paper on conference theme award went to Joseph Astrachan, Claudia Binz Astrachan and Josip Kotlar and their paper: “Family Firm Disrupters: Exploring the Relationships between Family Cohesion, Family Disruptive Capacity, and Company Disruptive Capacity”. The study sheds a light on family firm heterogeneity and its role on a firm’s capacity to act as a disruptive force by exploring the owning family’s influence on the firm’s ability to remain competitive in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. The authors investigate the influence of Family Cohesion and Transgenerational Intent on what they term Family Disruptive Capacity, or family related characteristics that indicate a high openness to risk-taking and change within the owning family, and on Company Disruptive Capacity, or the company’s orientation and activity-based ability to anticipate and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Findings, unexcitingly, show that family cohesion has a strong and positive effect on both family and company disruptive capacity, with transgenerational intent further strengthening the relationship. The third award, The “Ten Clarenwater Foundation” best teaching case award, has been assigned to Jan Willem van der Vloot van Vliet, Rachel Heeringa and Ilse Matser for their teaching case “Jansen Office Supplies: Love to Work….or not? A Shift in Leadership and Strategy”, a case of cultural change and a shift of values connected with a succession in leadership that leaded the company Jansen Office Supplier close to the bankruptcy and encouraged the sons of […]

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