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The University’s Management School is set to begin a new programme in October of this year that aims to support the family business sector. The programme is set to last until August 2016, and seeks to help out those who are currently or will in the future be placed in charge of their own family business. The scheme is to be based off of research undertaken by the university, using fields of study ranging from economics to history and from management theories to sociology.
The programme could be of major significance to both the local and national economies. An estimated 71% of small-to-medium sized enterprises across the country are family businesses, and the sector accounts for over nine million jobs and contributes in excess of £1 trillion to the UK economy. For some time, concern has been expressed over the lack of support for SME’s, with notable high profile schemes such as Santander’s growth funds targeting the sector. The key objectives of the scheme is to focus family business leaders on the problems their firms have or may be set to face in the future, and helping them overcome these problems via a range of methods such as learning lessons from long-standing peers in order to ensure innovation and success can be sustained across generations, and inputting changes and developments in management and technology in order to provide potential for business regeneration.
One of the most significant and complex issues the programme seeks to address is that of planning for succession; what should happen when a long-standing leader comes to step down from their responsibilities. Similarly, the scheme seeks to educate on potentially sensitive issues of how families should be structured within their own businesses, and when it is appropriate to look outwards to external management teams or other job types as alternatives to family members being involved in the firm.
Speaking to the LUMS news team, the head of family business engagement in the Management School, Jacqui Jackson, said, “Family businesses have unique goals that stem from the influence of family and they also have distinctive strategies and managerial practices. Sometimes, these distinctive traits correspond to unique strengths and competitive advantages, but they can also cause severe organisational disruption that can cause significant problems within family businesses.” She added further that the university’s programme would provide support not only for the family business leaders, but also to the key decision makers within the firms in order to better help everyone involved deal with any changes to their business, turning such firms into far more professional businesses through the development of their own management teams.