COMMGMT 7003 - Family Business Fundamentals

North Terrace Campus - Trimester 2 - 2024

The purpose of this course is to enhance students' understanding of the characteristics, contributions, and issues unique to family businesses. Topics include the uniqueness and importance of family business, family governance, transgenerational entrepreneurship, professionalization, as well as succession and strategic planning. Key theories used in the family business field will also be introduced and applied in the course, such as systems theory, agency and stewardship theory, the resource-based view, and the socio-emotional wealth perspective. This course utilises a case study method where students are taught how to analyse, develop and deliver recommendations on real family business cases using the theoretical frameworks covered. By design, Family Business Fundamentals is a foundational course for those seeking to be a professional advisor to or leader of family businesses. The course will appeal to those who are interested in succeeding or starting their own family business, as well as those interacting with family businesses as advisors, managers, or policy-makers.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMMGMT 7003
    Course Family Business Fundamentals
    Coordinating Unit Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation & Innov Centre
    Term Trimester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive: 36 hours
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Individual assignments, quiz
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Michael Browne

    Dr Michael Browne
    The University of Adelaide Business School
    Nexus 10, Level 9 (Room 9.23

    Michael is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Adelaide Business School of the University of Adelaide and chairs the Advisory Board of the Family Business Education Research Group (FBERG)within the University.
    Michael completed his PhD at the University of Adelaide in 2022. His PhD focused on how non-financial characteristics influence the business models of family businesses. Prior to commencing his PhD, Michael was a partner of a Big 4 Accounting firm in Adelaide, where he led the private client practice and worked in the corporate finance practice of that firm. His professional experience included working with family businesses of all sizes in varying industries. His corporate finance experience has given him exposure to due diligence, lead advisory and valuation across a range of businesses. 
    Michael qualified as a Chartered Accountant and was awarded Fellow status. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Accounting) and Honours in Business from the University of South Australia. He also holds a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment. 
    Michael consults to family businesses, chairs a family business and continues his involvement in professional practice through his role on the advisory board of a professional service firm. 

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Family businesses make a significant contribution to the economic development of national economies around the world. According to latest statistics, most Australian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are family-controlled businesses. Further the majority of large (public and private) firms are either directly or indirectly family owned and/or controlled. Therefore it is important to have an understanding of the issues facing these firms as well as the ability to apply theory in order to make sense of these issues.

    As a consequence, on successful completion of this course students will be able to …

    1. Explain and utilize the case study method, including:

    a. Analysing case studies
    i. Active reading
    ii. Critical thinking
    iii. Problem solving
    b. Discussing case studies
    i. Forming an argument
    ii. Public speaking
    iii. How to write about case studies
    c. Writing case based essays

    2. Describe and apply family business theories and frameworks, such as:

    a. Systems theory
    b. The Resource Based View
    c. Agency theory
    d. Stewardship perspective
    e. Socio-Emotional Wealth
    f. Integrative Model of Succession

    3. Identify and analyze family business case issues:

    Students will be exposed to multiple types of family business cases so as to create a wealth of experience, knowledge and ability to recognize common issues and apply theoretical models. These issues represent common opportunieis and challeneges that family firms face, such as: 

    a. Family business governance
    b. Strategic planning
    c. Succession
    d. Entrepreneurship and business renewal

    4. Synthesize knowledge and prescribe solutions through oral presentations:

    Working in teams, students will become highly skilled in public speaking, presentations and visual aid creation. The course will focus on  presentations of analysis and recommendations consistent with both professional family business consultancy and case presentations within the academic setting.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1,2 & 3

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    1,2 & 3

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    1,2,3 & 4

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    3 & 4

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    a) There are two primary textbook resources which are required for this course:

    1. William Ellet (2007). The Case Study Handbook: How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases. (Harvard Business Press) – Free access through MyUni.

    2. Poza & Daugherty (2014). Family Business. (South-Western Cengage Learning) – Ebook available for purchase though Cengage (link posted on MyUni).

    Textbooks will be available for purchase. Alternatively you can purchase an e-book version of the text at a significantly discounted rate. The e-book version has the following features:

     Available on your laptop, smartphone, tablet or online
     Use the search function to locate key concepts

    b) Academic readings: Many of the readings for this course have been taken from academic sources. These are listed in the detailed course timetable (page 8 of the course booklet). Rather than students having to purchase these texts (or borrow and photocopy the relevant sections from the library), electronic copies of these readings are available for download from the course’s MyUni website.

    c) Case studies – in order for students to get a realistic experience in the issues facing family businesses, this course utilizes multiple case studies. These are listed in the detailed course timetable (page 8 of the course booklet booklet). Rather than students having to purchase these cases, electronic copies are available for download from the course’s MyUni website.
    Recommended Resources
    Other reading resources which students may find useful include:

    • Au, Craig, & Ramachandran (2011). Family Enterprise In The Asia Pacific (Edward Elgar Publishing).
    • Sorenson, Yu, Brigham, & Lumpkin (2013). The Landscape Of Family Business (Edward Elgar Publishing).
    • Esteban Brenes (2011). Understanding Entrepreneurial Family Businesses in Uncertain Environments (Edward Elgar Publishing).
    • Sharma, Nason, & Sieger (2013). Exploring Transgenerational Entrepreneurship (Edward Elgar Publishing).
    • Nordqvist & Zellweger (2011) Transgenerational Entrepreneurship (Edward Elgar Publishing).
    Online Learning
    Please make sure to check the course’s MyUni website regularly as this will be the main method in which I communicate to students and make additional information and resources available.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    Learning Activities Summary

    No information currently available.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment will be made up of 
    - Individual research assignment (theories and perspectives commonly used in family business research) (20%)
    - Individual case study assignment - family business case study (30%)
    - Group case study presentation family business case study (30%)
    - Individual contribution to group case study presentation (10%)
    - Individual contribution in seminars (10%)
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment will involve the following components
    - essay on the key theories commonly associated with family business
    - individual case study
    - group assignment - case study
    - participation in seminars

    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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