In the last issue of 2023, the IFERA R&D team is excited to announce wonderful news for the family business community. We are delighted to share that our team has recently expanded with the addition of four new PhD ambassadors.
Therefore, we are pleased to introduce them in this dedicated article.
Lajos Szabó is a third-year PhD student enrolled in the Applied Economics and Management PhD program jointly run by the University of Pavia and the University of Bergamo. His research interests extend to both family businesses and entrepreneurship, with a focus on the family and social embeddedness of family firms in institutional contexts where the family business is a re-emergent organizational form. A fun fact about Lajos is that he reliably starts sneezing if he eats chocolate with a cocoa percentage above a threshold of about 80%. Incidentally, he doesn’t tend to eat a lot of chocolate.
Oumaima Quiddi is a Professor at ESCA Ecole de Management in Morocco, holding a Ph.D. in management sciences from Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech. Her teaching areas include corporate finance, accounting, management control, and research methodology. Oumaima is also an associate researcher at the Chair of Family Businesses in Morocco, focusing on the financial behavior of family businesses in the Arab world and the MENA region. She particularly explores investment, financing, and dividend payout policies. Oumaima turns to meditation as a hobby to find solace from the challenges of Ph.D. life, using it to ease the inherent pressures associated with pursuing a doctoral degree in the complex realm of family business.
Sofia Brunelli is a Ph.D. candidate in Management, Finance, and Accounting at Cattaneo University – LIUC in Italy. She is a research fellow at FABULA (FAmily BUsiness LAb at Cattaneo University – LIUC). At 27 years old, she shares her life with her family and her dog named Thiago. She has a passion for traveling, both personally and professionally. This year, she had the opportunity to be a visiting Ph.D. student at CeFEO (Centre for Family Entrepreneurship and Ownership) in Jönköping, Sweden. Her research interests encompass family business performance and generational issues.
Paolo Capolupo is a Ph.D. Student in Management Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Bari (Italy). He spent six months as a visiting Ph.D. student at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management (Germany) within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group. His research focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship in family businesses, with a particular attention to transgenerational dynamics. He attended IFERA conferences since 2021 and was honored to receive the Best Paper Award at the IFERA 2023 Annual Conference. In his personal life, he is happily married (no kids yet!) and has a dog that he rescued five years ago after it followed him home. He said that he had no choice but to bring him home!
What is the main reason why you applied for this role?
Lajos: I applied for the role of PhD ambassador because it was through IFERA that I first stepped into the broader academic world. I owe a lot to the community for guiding my research and my ongoing PhD journey, so I felt it was only natural that I take the opportunity to give back.
Oumaima: I applied for this role because I am deeply passionate about IFERA programs and would like to contribute to building a supportive and collaborative environment for researchers in family businesses, fostering a sense of community among Ph.D. students worldwide.
Sofia: The main reason why I decided to apply for this role is that during these three years as a Ph.D. student, I had the opportunity to become more familiar with IFERA’s activities. Certainly, my firsthand experience has demonstrated the practical benefits these activities offer in facilitating the Ph.D. journey. I believe that by actively participating in the planning and execution of IFERA’s initiatives, I can play a role in helping fellow Ph.D. candidates. This role represents an opportunity for me to give back to the academic community and contribute to the continued success of IFERA’s programs.
Paolo: To go straight to the point, I wanted to actively contribute to the community. I had my first experience with IFERA in 2021, attending the Annual Conference, which unfortunately was online due to the pandemic. Yet, even if online, I felt engaged with the community, as I could sense its joy and openness. The next year, I met some of the people who were first colleagues and then became friends. So, I applied for this role to do something for the community myself, and I also think it will be a great learning experience.
In your opinion, how would the family business community benefit from having PhD ambassadors?
Lajos: I think PhD ambassadors provide a key role by being a focal point of contact with new and prospective members of the community. I feel that through this role, they may serve the community in two ways. First, they can “bridge” the world of academia to those who are just starting out. Second, through their work, they can bring in new perspectives to those already existing within the community, not only through the introduction of new members but also through experiences gained from this unique role.
Oumaima: I believe that PhD ambassadors may play a pivotal role in nurturing a culture of continuous learning by organizing webinars, reading clubs, writing boot camps, and other knowledge-sharing activities. We may help identify common research interests. This not only allows for the capitalization and accumulation of research in the family business field but also fosters a collaborative environment where insights and experiences can be shared and leveraged for the benefit of researchers and Ph.D. students worldwide. We may also foster the creation of bridges for partnerships and the accumulation of international data, addressing the growing demand for studies on family businesses utilizing international data.
Sofia: PhD ambassadors can bring different benefits to the family business community. Firstly, PhD ambassadors serve as intermediaries between students and organizers of IFERA activities. Secondly, PhD ambassadors play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between PhD students and professors or tutors within the family business community. Indeed, PhD ambassadors create an atmosphere where students feel more comfortable expressing concerns and seeking guidance. Thirdly, PhD ambassadors play a relevant role in expanding the network of family business researchers. Finally, PhD ambassadors can contribute a fresh perspective, enabling them to encourage the introduction of new activities or changes to existing ones.
Paolo: Starting from my experience, PhD Ambassadors were the first people who approached me at IFERA conferences, making me feel comfortable. Moreover, for young scholars and especially early PhD students, PhD ambassadors can be peers who are easier to reach and ask questions about potential challenges and difficulties at the start of the PhD. Also, the family business community can benefit from PhD Ambassadors’ fresh ideas, such as events and activities organized by PhDs for PhDs. In sum, in my opinion, PhD ambassadors are an outpost in the family business community to reach out to newcomers and ultimately strongly help grow the community.
According to your experience, how do you envision the future of family business research?
Lajos: I see the field of family business research continuing to steadily grow as it has done in the last several decades. I anticipate that as we move forward, we will begin to see more contributions which will extend beyond the scope of our field and serve to inform the broader landscape of management and organizational science.
Oumaima: The future of family business research, in my view, involves a multidimensional approach that takes into account global influences, technological advancements, sustainability considerations, and collaborative efforts between academia and the business community. I also anticipate a growing emphasis on cross-cultural studies and the impact of diverse socio-economic environments on the dynamics of family businesses. Moreover, the future trajectory of family business research must prominently address the question of heterogeneity within family enterprises. Recognizing the inherent diversity within family businesses, such as variations in size, industry, ownership structures, and generations involved, will be essential.
Sofia: If I were to envision the future of family business research, the first thing I foresee is a significant increase in both the quantity and quality of papers in this field. Additionally, I imagine a community that is ever-expanding and more diverse. I envision the community of family business researchers growing to include individuals with different cultural and professional backgrounds and diverse geographical origins. Indeed, I expect a close interconnection between researchers and practitioners, which is inevitably a positive aspect. The one thing I believe, and hope will remain unchanged is the cooperative and supportive nature of the family business community.
Paolo: According to my very limited experience, I think family business research will go deeper into studying heterogeneity among family firms, probably leveraging family science theories. More in general, I see potential for family business research to become even more integrated with the broader management literature. Overall, I believe the ultimate goal is always to develop a theory of the family business. Anyway, with this community, I can only see a bright future for family business research!
We are thrilled to have such a group of talented young researchers joining our team. They bring motivation and ideas to enrich not only our internal meetings and the initiatives we run but also have something to contribute to the community at large. With them, we aim to keep our ears sharp for the needs and wants of Ph.D. students in our field. We hope they can realize their visions through their role as new Ph.D. Ambassadors with IFERA.
Thank you, Lajos, Oumaima, Sofia, and Paolo, for joining us!