Teaching plan for the course unit


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General information


Course unit name: Family Business, Innovation and Globalization

Course unit code: 570111

Academic year: 2017-2018

Coordinator: Paloma Fernandez Perez

Department: Department of Economic History, Institutions and Policy and World Economy

Credits: 2,5

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 62,5


Face-to-face learning activities



-  Lecture




-  Lecture with practical component




-  Student presentation and discussion



Supervised project


Independent learning






— To choose continuous assessment because half of the methodological and knowledge objectives and capacities that must be acquired can be achieved through class and Virtual Campus interaction, by accumulating the established assessment objectives.

— To have minimum skills in oral and written English.

— To be willing to apply innovative techniques to the study and presentation of topics.

— To show an innovative proactive attitude so that everybody can provide knowledge to the class and also be part of a real community of knowledge exchange, a key competence in innovation management for business. 

— To acquire an international perspective open to the existence of alternative and valid methods that favour innovation. 



Competences to be gained during study


On completing the subject, students should have acquired the following competences, specific to the subject:

— Understanding and use of theories on innovation, family business and the diversity of paths used to achieve innovation in different locations and historical periods.

— Understanding of the company’s external and internal obstacles that block innovative efforts throughout time; and of the success strategies adopted by regions and specific companies to overcome these obstacles and become innovative. 


In addition, the following general competences for the degree:


Basic competences

— Knowledge forming the basis of original thinking in the development or application of ideas, typically in a research context.

— Capacity to integrate knowledge and tackle the complexity of formulating judgements based on incomplete or limited information, taking due consideration of the social and ethical responsibilities involved in applying knowledge and making judgements.


Specific competences

— Capacity to analyse policies that promote innovation, R&D and entrepreneurship in different regions, to be able to understand their impact in society. 

— Capacity to analyse and develop technology management processes in companies. 

— Capacity to analyse the economic dimension of technology in order to develop improvements in the strategies and competitiveness of technology-based companies. 





Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

The general objective for the subject is to provide students with conceptual and empirical tools to confirm the importance of family businesses in the long-term development of innovation, both for developed economies as well as for emerging ones. 

In relation with this general objective, the secondary objective is to show the main factors responsible of this innovation, linked to internal conditions (related to the organization and management of this type of companies) and to external conditions built up through time, which may facilitate or block innovation (political situation, education system, family and mercantile legislation, tax system or the degree of openness to knowledge transfer and capital, technology and human resource flows).



Teaching blocks


1. Family business and business families: Review of the main concepts, theories and academic debates

*  In this block the main concepts, theories and debates are explored in different academic fields with an interest in family businesses and business families: business history, bibliography on family business, management and psychology. Also the main international centres, associations and journals are presented where the best research on family businesses is carried out.

1.1. Birth of a research field in world business studies: family companies in the United Stated during the 70s; Current debates

2. Innovation and its complexity and diversity, from Schumpeter to Fagerberg and Mowery

*  This block presents innovation as a process that has been understood from many different perspectives, depending on the historical period and the theoretical and methodological approaches. These range from understanding innovation as a process exclusively related to technological change to understanding it as an experience that affects and involves companies and their environment, in relation to products, processes, organization and structural integration in local, regional, national or international innovation systems. The change from an analysis of the importance of Schumpeterian businesspeople and innovators to considering the training of relational communities within companies, and between these companies and their territorial or sector environment is explained. 

2.1. Classical concepts on innovation: Schumpeterian destructive creation and the North American influence; Beyond technological innovation

3. Business families and innovation in the developed world: A long-term perspective

*  This block uses specific cases of countries, regions, sectors and companies to exemplify the diversity of family business types adopted to include innovation in their organization and long-term strategies, following success and failure cases. Some of these cases are presented by the lecturer and students are responsible for others under the supervision of the teacher. Students must assimilate and relate particular experiences with general processes and concepts. The importance of change in the environment and within the families is stressed, to escape from stationary analyses ignoring historical change and path dependence, which condition development of failure potentials of family businesses.

3.1. Importance of institutional framework and path dependence: Obstacles, opportunities and resources for innovation in the Anglosphere

This topic follows two methodologies. In the first place, through a general approach to long-term conditioning factors for innovation in family companies in the Anglosphere. In the second place, through case studies: the lecturer presents different cases while students present another case for a country and sector of their interest, and relate it to the general factors studied with the lecturer. 

3.2. Importance of institutional framework and path dependence: Obstacles, opportunities and resources in the Nordic periphery and the Mediterranean

This topic follows two methodologies. In the first place, the lecturer presents long-term conditioning factors for innovation in family companies in Sweden, Italy and Spain. In the second place, through specific business cases: some of them are presented by the lecturer (the Wallenbergs from Sweden, the Agnellis from Italy and the Roca and the Puig from Spain), while students present other cases. 

3.3. Family business and innovation in Asia: the case of Japan and the Toyodas

The institutional long-term conditioners of the environment that explain the possibilities family businesses have had to innovate in Asia, through the case of Japan and the Toyoda family. Contrasts with the cases studied in North American and European developed countries in the two previous topics of this block are highlighted. 

4. Business families and innovation in emerging countries: A long-term perspective

*  This block presents the different institutional, education and economic contexts that make innovation develop differently from the cases analysed in the previous block, focused on family business and innovation in developed countries, through approaches to regions, countries and specific companies. The cases are presented by the lecturer and the students. 

4.1. Business families and family businesses in emerging economies in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Institutional, market and cultural determining factors

4.2. Cases

4.3. Comparison between cases of different emerging economies. Conclusions

5. Porter revisited: Analysis of sector competition compared to innovative family companies in developed and in developing economies

*  This block is focused on the students’ learning outcomes from their interaction with the lecturer and their work in the previous teaching blocks. Using Michael Porter’s analytical keys for business and country competition and a long-term perspective, which refer to sector specialization and business and institutional contexts, students analyse two topics. First, the keys to differential competition within a sector of innovative family business in developed and developing economies. Second, the importance of history and changing contexts (political, economic, social, cultural) to understand the opportunities, obstacles and conditioning changes of different families in world businesses of the last century.  



Teaching methods and general organization


The methodology combines:

— Class presentations by the lecturer.

— Individual student work through presentations and practical assignments in the classroom and also the Virtual Campus.

— Group work through presentations and practical assignments in the classroom and also the Virtual Campus.

— Experimentation with social networks to further the understanding of the topics and to assess possibilities of personal use for social networks in future education and professional objectives. 

— Production and study of assessed materials. Students stop being passive recipients of the lecturer’s and take responsibility to create teaching material for all students to complete a final oral and written exercise. The material created by students and the lecturer is grouped together in the Virtual Campus. Students assess different ways to present the topics and also learn from the cases chosen by their classmates. This methodology promotes a communal vision of the learning and working process.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


Continuous assessment takes into account the following activities:

1. Submission of a written case study for an innovative family business in a developed country and oral defence in class. The sector must be the same as that used for the second activity: 30% of the final grade.

2. Submission of a written case study for an innovative family business in a developing country and oral defence in class. The sector must be the same as that used for the developed country: 30% of the final grade.

3. Submission of a written assignment comparing the keys to competitiveness of the two companies or business groups presented in the previous assignments, following the diamond model of competition by Porter, establishing how the companies fit in and the influence of different economic and institutional environments: 20% of the final grade.

4. An examination on the cases and sectors presented by the whole group in the classroom, and on the compulsory reading set by the lecturer at the beginning of the course: 20% of the final grade. 


Examination-based assessment

Students who wish to be entered for single assessment must sit a written individual examination on the official date to assess the competences described in the teaching plan. Unfortunately, single assessment cannot assess the capacity to interact with the lecturer and classmates; to present oral assignments or to discuss with visiting professionals, key aspects of the subject. For that reason, all students are encouraged to follow the continuous assessment procedure. 

To be eligible to sit the single assessment examination, students should contact the lecturer to be suggested at least 10 articles and books related to the topics covered, the reading of which is the minimum requirement for the examination. Besides, several different websites must be studied in relation with the topics covered, also suggested by the lecturer. 



Reading and study resources

Consulteu la disponibilitat a CERCABIB


The Oxford Handbook of Business Groups. Oxford University Press

  Reference book

Catāleg UB  Enllaç

 Paloma Fernández Pérez, La última globalización y el renacer de los grandes negocios familiares en el mundo. Bogotá: Uniandes/Cátedra Corona, 2012.

Catāleg UB  Enllaç

Paloma Fernández Pérez, with C. Lubinski and J. Fear, eds, (2013), Family Multinationals. Entrepreneurship, Govbernance and Pathways to Internationalization. Routledge

Catāleg UB  Enllaç

Paloma Fernández Pérez, ed. (2013), La profesionalización de las empresas familiares. Madrid, LID.

Catāleg UB  Enllaç


Business History (1992 fins a 2013)

  Highly recommended journal

Versiķ en línia  Enllaç