Message from Alumni Affairs Director Tara Lynn
Looking forward to January events: Predictions dinners and the 2012 Alumni Awards gala ... »
Angela Noble-Grange, MBA '942011 Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Carlos Quintanilla, MBA '802011 Distinguished Latino Alumni Award Recipient
Johnson at Cornell University and Queen’s School of Business Announce a Rebrand
Program rebrand to include name change and strategic and curricular initiatives
Johnson Tackles the Challenges of Family-Owned Businesses
Smith Family Business Initiative Director Daniel Van Der Vliet presents "Family Business on the Front Lines: Entrepreneurs, Enterprises, and Extremophiles" at Johnson Club of the Finger Lakes Predictions Dinner.
While the public perception of a family business may be the small mom-and-pop store, statistics present a much different picture: The 5.5 million family-owned firms in the U.S. account for 57 percent of the U.S. GDP and employ 63 percent of the workforce, according to the most recent economic data from Family Enterprise USA, a nonprofit organization.
The significant impact family businesses have on the economy has led universities to establish academic programs and research projects that address their unique needs. Last January, Cornell became a national leader in this field when Johnson created the Smith Family Business Initiative, funded by a $10 million gift from John Smith, MBA ’74, and his wife, Dyan, who own CRST International of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, one of the ten largest U.S. freight trucking companies and also a family-owned business.
Family business studies are now at the stage where entrepreneurship programs were 30 years ago, according to Daniel Van Der Vliet, who was appointed executive director of the Smith Family Business Initiative last September. In 1985, about 250 college courses were taught on entrepreneurship, and today nearly 400,000 college students take such courses every year, Van Der Vliet said when he spoke Jan. 6 at the Johnson Club of the Finger Lakes Predictions Dinner, one of many annual Johnson alumni club events held throughout the U.S. and around the world.
By contrast, about 100 courses in family business studies are now offered at between 70 and 75 colleges and universities that have formal programs in the field. "The takeaway is starting a business is very sexy, but sustaining a business is not so sexy," Van Der Vliet said. "I think that's where the opportunity lies, especially for the Smith Family Business Initiative: to understand the connection that it's equally important to sustain a business as it is to start a business."
One challenge for family firms is maintaining a succession of leadership. About 30 percent of family businesses survive into the second generation, 14 percent make it to the third generation, and 3 to 4 percent continue beyond the fourth generation, Van Der Vliet said.
Despite those odds, Van Der Vliet said many family businesses are considered "extremophiles" because they can adapt their internal systems and external activities to the emergence of an extreme environment, such as a recession or political unrest around the world.
"Why do family businesses make natural extremophiles? They have a high tolerance to risk, they have a longer view as to what the business can be and will be, and strong ties to city, county, and region," Van Der Vliet said. "They have robust social networks and they are just connected to the community. And finally, necessity is the mother of invention."
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Thursday, January 29, 2015
Johnson Club of New York City Inaugural Predictions Dinner
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Johnson Club of Chicago Annual Predictions Dinner
Thursday, February 5, 2015
The Johnson Club of Washington, DC Annual Predictions Dinner
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Johnson Club of the United Kingdom Annual Predictions Dinner