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: 2019-2020

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 and/or online activities



-  Lecture





-  Lecture with practical component





-  Student presentation and discussion




Supervised project


Independent learning






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

— Have minimum skills in oral and written English.

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

— 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.

— 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 organisation 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.

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

2. Business families and innovation in the world; A history laboratory considering current situations and future concerns

*  This block comprises a synthesis of the history of family capitalism in the world, with the aim of understanding the analytical keys to innovation in many countries of the world where family businesses dominate. It includes open discussion of how this historical discourse can guide present and future business practices.

2.1. Importance of institutional framework and path dependence

2.2. Family business and innovation throughout the world; Cases and models: the United States, European peripheral countries (Northern, Mediterranean), Asia, Africa

3. Passt, present and futur innovation keys; Sectorial analysis of the competitiveness of family businesses in the world

*  Using Michael Porter’s analytical keys for business and country competition and a long-term perspective, which refer to sector specialisation and business and institutional contexts, students analyse three topics. Firstly, the dynamic and changing sources of sustainable competitiveness to be found within family businesses that aspire to last in the world. Secondly, the importance of history and changing contexts (political, economic, social, cultural) to the opportunities, obstacles and changing conditions of different families dedicated to business throughout the world for more than a century. And, thirdly, the role of values, leadership, individual and collective entrepreneurship, and human and political chance when determining the exploitation or wastefulness of opportunities for business and innovation.



Teaching methods and general organization


The methodology combines:

— Class presentations by the lecturer.

— Independent study based on recommended reading outlined at the beginning of the course, followed by class discussion of relevant topics from each subject. The teacher will assign a reading to each student (also indicated on the Virtual Campus), who must consider any relevant questions it raises, and what issues of debate they might precipitate. These questions and issues for debate are to be submitted in writing and openly discussed in class.

— A group project on history as a key to sustainable past, present and future innovation, looking at sectors and countries dominated by family-based capitalism. The teacher will establish the groups at the start of the course and, each week in class, discuss several aspects relating to group organisation and the project; each group will also give a progress report on their project to the teacher and other classmates. At the end of the course, each group will make an oral presentation of their project, and submit a written report following the guidelines of The Chicago Manual of Style.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


Continuous assessment takes into account the following activities:

1. Individual written paper based on the recommended reading: 25%.

2. Class debates on reading material: 15%.

3. Written and oral reports on the progress of the group project (in class on the day assigned): 20%.

4. Written and oral presentation, at the end of the course, of the group project on the relevance of values and family control in sectors dominated by family businesses (media, fashion, pharmacy, textiles, hospitality, retail and wholesale trade, etc.): 40%.


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


Fernández Pérez, Paloma and Andrea Colli, The Endurance of Family Business. A Global Overview. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Catāleg UB  Enllaç

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

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


Journal of Evolutionary Studies in Business

Catāleg UB  Enllaç

Business History (1992 fins a 2013)

  Highly recommended journal

Versiķ en línia  Enllaç