Change of affiliation to WHU

On a personal note: I have left the University of St. Gallen as of December 2015 in order to become the Chaired Professor of Family Business at the Institute for Family Businesses within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany.


My new contact data read as follows (electronic and physical mail delivered to the St.Gallen addresses will not be delivered any more):

Institut für Familienunternehmen

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Postal Adress: Campus Vallendar, Burgplatz 2, 56179 Vallendar, Germany

Address for visitors: D’Esterstraße 11, DG, 56179 Vallendar

Tel.: +49 261 6509-780 ; mail: nadine.kammerlander [ AT ]


Why family firms do or do not use controlling tools

You ever wondered whether family firms differ in their use of controlling tools? And how and why? Mateja Andric, one of our excellent bachelor students, found some answers to those questions.

In her work, she surveyed 101 Swiss family SMEs on their firm characteristics, goals, and their use of controlling tools. Using a mediation-analysis, she finds that:

  • Less than 20% of the surveyed firms actually have employees dedicated to planning and controlling.
  • In those cases that have staff dedicated to planning and controlling, on average 1.25 employees work on this topic.
  • Planning and controlling is seen as matter for the boss, as also the graphic shows: In most cases, the CEO or advisory board takes care of planning and controlling tasks.
  • The more the family influences the company (in terms of voting rights and family members in management positions), the less the firm uses strategic planning and controlling because of (a) lack of controlling knowledge and (b) lack of general appreciation of controlling.
  • The more the family influences the company, the less the firm uses operative planning and controlling because of (a) an increased focus on non-financial goals and (b) a focus on informal instead of formal structures.


Controlling responsibilities (from Andric, 2015)
Controlling responsibilities (from Andric, 2015)
Model of controlling in family firms (Andric, 2015)
Model of controlling in family firms (Andric, 2015)

Student workshop on “Family Business Groups”

Last week, more than 15 HSG-students who are all interested in “family dynasties around the world” came together to a workshop organized by PhD student Max Groh, Thomas Zellweger, and myself.

Family Business Groups
Family Business Groups

In this 4-hour workshop, the students presented findings from their bachelor- and master theses and we discussed how family wealth is created and destroyed over time. Did you know, for example, that “testamentary surprises” can really disrupt family dynasties? This happened, for instance, in the Getty family when the family patriarch left most of his firm shares to his wife (who was not involved in the business) instead of his son (who was active in the business), because he was unhappy with the son’s (already divorced) marriage. Or did you know that the motivation of the successor is really crucial? The UK Sainsbury family’s wealth started to decline, when the family CEO, after being in office for 4 years, decided to leave his entrepreneurial for a political career, resigned from his job, and sold the family’s shares. And did you also know that family business groups differ substantially across countries? Or did you know that re-buying a previously sold family business (or at least attempts to do so) seem particularly frequent among family business groups?

In addition to all the interesting case studies, bachelor student Elena Hauptmann showed some impressive numbers about how generational involvement and other key characteristics of family business groups are different in Italy, US, and Germany.

We are looking forward to the next findings!



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In order to get in contact, please leave a comment or write to nadine.kammerlander [ at ]