Business Schools are Becoming Increasingly Family Business-Friendly

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According to the Wall Street Journal, many business management schools are choosing to offer courses on running family businesses. Why? Many companies in the U.S. are family-run, but the issues facing these companies are changing over time, and their management is becoming more complex. Schools that offer courses like asset management and communication, and succession planning, are becoming more in demand for the up-and-coming business people who will eventually try their hands at their family’s business.

In 2012, Columbia Business School added a course on family enterprises and wealth. So far, they’ve seen course enrollment almost double. Similar programs at other schools have also fared well. “The demand is there in the marketplace; we see the demand from students, so I think it’s only healthy that professors from the elite schools are excited to work in this area,” said the Dean of Johnson Graduate School of Management, Soumitra Dutta.

Patricia Angus, a professor of family enterprises at Columbia, agrees, saying that, “The issues that are related to family-owned businesses can be so unique, complex, and multidisciplinary that I can’t imagine getting an M.B.A. without being exposed to them.”

For students coming from family-business backgrounds, what’s key for finding a great program at top business schools? It makes sense that these students should look for schools that fill in their knowledge gaps. Every family is going to have a different skill-set they pass on; some might be better at explaining accounting, while others might be better about teaching assets.

In some ways, applying to a business school from a family-perspective might be a useful asset during business school admissions. Schools are looking for candidates who have a high-potential for graduating, and students that already have a business they’re aiming toward are likely to provide. Having the unique perspective of working alongside a family business can also help applicants craft stand-out college admissions essays.

Are you applying to business management schools? Let us know in the comments.

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