Edhec launches family business global EMBA

Programme is a departure from usual short course approach

Edhec Business School is hoping to break new ground with the launch of a family business global executive MBA.

The programme, which will start at the end of February 2015, is one of very few available globally that aims to offer family business members a recognised business qualification. Most family business education is offered in short courses of just a few days duration, or in custom programmes designed for a particular company.

With its family business EMBA, Edhec will be joining a very small club, which includes Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University in the US. Unlike the Coles offering, which is open to applications from anyone aged 25 – 65, Edhec will only consider applications from those at a pivotal stage in their family business careers.

Sylvain Daudel, director of the Edhec Family Business Centre, says the applicants should be about to take over a unit, or have been asked to serve on the board, or perhaps be on the threshold of taking over the whole company. “You need a homogenous cohort,” he says.

Like others in Europe, for example Morten Bennedsen of Insead, Prof Daudel sees a pressing need to provide family business education in Europe. Many companies in Europe, he says, were created in the “golden era” of the 1960s and will soon simultaneously be facing the need to transfer ownership of the company.

“We want to help those who are going to take over so that they are in a better position,” he says.

After the first phase of the programme, which Prof Daudel describes as “very MBA-like”, students will go to Edhec’s Singapore campus from where they will visit family businesses that have agreed to partner with Edhec for the programme. Participating companies will be both homegrown Asian and Asian subsidiaries of non-Asian family businesses. This Asian phase will not only give insights into other family businesses and the problems they might have encountered, it is also intended to emphasise the importance of a global outlook.

Throughout the programme students will work on a personal development plan and will have access to a personal mentor. Unusually, they will also be expected to learn from one another. Each will be asked to choose a classmate to shadow while that person performs management duties in their own family business. The observer will then be asked to write a report on what they found surprising about their peer’s behaviour. The aim here, says Prof Daudel, is to make the observer reflect on their own values. “It’s important because I think values are the core of every family business.”

Other unique aspects of the course include a serious game which will challenge student participants to overcome problems and to develop successful strategies. In addition students will spend three days at Sandhurst military academy in the UK with the Inspirational Development Group on a physical leadership development exercise.

Fees have been set at €60,000 for which students will need to be able to commit to nine weeks on Edhec campuses (including one week in London and two weeks in Singapore) and a further equivalent of three weeks off campus for pre-reading and course assignments. Travel to all Edheccampuses, accommodation and dinners will, in common with other EMBAs, be at students’ own expense. Tuition and assignments are spread over 15 months. The first intake of students will start at the end of February 2015 and will graduate in May 2016.

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