SM9643 - Family Business Studies

What will I learn on this module?

This module will introduce students to all aspects of family business studies. It will cover seminal issues including the evolution of family businesses and differing interpretations of family business including the distinction between family and non-family business. The role of family businesses worldwide and how they operate in different socioeconomic, political and cultural contexts. Drivers of longevity in family business including succession planning/management, next-generation engagement, innovation, transgenerational issues (such as transmission of skills), change management and entrepreneurship. Finally, there will be special focus areas such as: emotions in family business (including socioemotional wealth); values in family business (including governance and CSR); family business strategy and competitive advantage (including Resource-Based View); and the function family business history (including identity creation/maintenance, branding and impression management).

How will I learn on this module?

The module will be delivered by lectures (1 hours) and seminars (2 hour) and will be assessed by a 3000 word assignment at the end of the semester (75%) and by group presentations (25%). The module will develop student knowledge of family business management, growth and survival via the use of illustrative case studies and research-based approaches. Interaction with live practitioners and family business owners with opportunities to learn from extant family businesses will enhance the learning experience. A series of guest speakers will be invited to deliver sessions on specific issues and challenges in family business management and how theories apply to their own businesses. The group work in seminars will develop interpersonal, communication and presentation skills and provide opportunities to examine and resolve challenging case situations. Students will be formatively assessed weekly via their preparation, contribution and participation in group work, seminar activities and presentations. The seminar work will be problem based and will involve the discussion of case studies, academic literature and web based materials. The involvement of real case studies will provide opportunities for students to integrate theory with practice.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The students will be supported by the module leader, guest lecturers, module tutors and seminar leaders. Academic staff will deliver lecturers in the specialist area. Family business owner-managers will provide materials to supplement their interactive sessions. Seminar groups will be limited to around 25 students to encourage more close, personal and focused learning. Sessions will be devoted to essay surgery and feed-forward sessions and rehearsal of group presentation delivery. The module will be supported via the e-learning portal, Blackboard Ultra, where materials and slides from lectures, seminars, guest lectures and external speakers will be loaded. This will include detailed breakdowns of assessment and submission criteria, instructions and deadlines. Microsoft Teams will provide an outlet for group chat instant feedback and up-to-date module announcements. A detailed reading list will provide weekly reading materials compiled from journal articles, textbooks, web resources and company websites. This will be supplemented by a broader reading list detailing seminal texts in key areas of family business studies.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

• Develop knowledge of processes and understand strategies in family business management. (MLO 1)
• Understand how theoretical foundations of family business studies can be incorporated and integrated into family business management. (MLO 2)
• Understand the longevity of multigenerational family business and how they survive across generations through periods of transition, uncertainty, technological change and increasing global competition. (MLO 3)

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• Develop teamwork, communication, interpersonal, presentation and problem-solving skills by engaging in group work and using illustrative case situations and resolving ‘real-life’ family business issues (MLO 4)

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• Be aware of the role of family businesses across the world are subject to different socioeconomic and cultural factors that result in a variety of creative approaches to strategy and decision-making. (MLO 5)

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment will take place in the form of a 3000-word assignment in an area of family business management to be decided by the teaching team. There will be choice of questions linked to each of the lectures and main focus areas. The assignment worth 75% will build upon the knowledge acquired from lectures and seminars. This component of the assessment addresses MLO1, MLO2, MLO3 and MLO5. Feedback on your summative performance in this module will be provided as follows: Your assessment will be returned to you with annotated comments directly related to the assessment task. You will also be provided with a written comment on actions to be taken to improve performance in assessment overall.

In addition, a piece of group work will be developed during the second half of the semester and will culminate in a group presentation. This will contribute 25% of the mark. The presentation topics will be student-led and chosen from seminar topics covered in seminars during the first half of the semester. The final presentation will be 20 minutes and groups (where possible) will number 4 students – each student responsible for 5 minutes segments of the presentation. Students will produce a one-page summary fact sheet to accompany their presentations. This component addresses MLO4. Formative assessment will take place through group work, assignment discussion and reflection, discussion board activity on the e-learning platform, case study activity, and theory/practice related discussions.
Criteria will be provided to enable you to understand what is expected of and how you will be assessed on your performance.

Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module, particularly in relating to seminar tasks. You should, however, be aware that formative feedback can, and will, occur in any communication with an academic tutor.





Module abstract

Family businesses make up over three-quarters of all businesses in most countries worldwide. They make significant contributions to economies, GDP, employment and supply/value chains. Family firms can be small and localised, such as Thomas Swan or Fenwicks – or large multinationals, such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Haribo. Others, such as the UK high street food outlet Greggs, have transitioned from
family business to publicly traded company. This module will enable you to understand how family businesses evolve and develop over time.
It analyses and offers insights into their behaviours and dynamics, and examines how they interact with, and contribute to, regional, national and global economies. You’ll explore the dynamic processes which enable family firms to survive in the face of increasing competition. In particular, the course will demonstrate how family business owner-managers develop strategies which enable firms to grow, diversify,
internationalise and innovate.

Course info

UCAS Code N155

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 year sandwich

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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