Our Mission

Our mission is to develop today’s and tomorrow’s family business leaders, to be a trusted, independent resource and educator for family firms and a highly relevant thought leadership center.

Family businesses are highly complex. They must continuously align the interests of the family with the ownership and objectives of the business. They typically have a very long-term, values-based approach; each generation wanting to ensure the success of the business for the next.

Complicated and sensitive family, business, ownership and financial issues can often present a tough challenge for family businesses. Family conflicts can flare up over a lack of clarity on the evolving roles of family members or diverging business visions. These issues present risks to both the family and the business. We are committed to focusing on the characteristics and challenges unique to family businesses.


We are forever indebted to Frank Tilley, former executive-in-residence, who identified family business as a field IMD ought to be active in, and to Professor Alden Lank, first faculty member to lead the initiative.

Professors John Davis, Ivan Lansberg and John Ward were instrumental in launching the first Leading the Family Business (LFB) program in 1988. Dr. Stephan Schmidheiny underwrote the pilot study.

The IMD Global Family Business Award was launched in 1996, with Lego the first of the many prestigious winners over the years. The Award has continued to grow in reputation, promoting the indispensable role family businesses play in the global economy.

LFB continues to be an enormous success, generating much interest from around the world. The subsequent demand for custom programs (tailor-made for your family business needs) has increased steadily and in 2004, after welcoming more than 400 families from over 40 countries, we celebrated the 1,000th Family Business participant milestone.

In 2008, the 20th anniversary of Family Business Research & Education at IMD was marked with the presence of Warren Buffett who engaged openly with faculty and families alike. In 2009 the Biennial Family Business Forum was introduced as well as the first program specifically for Chinese family businesses.

The IMD Global Family Business Center in its current form was officially inaugurated in 2011. Growing demand saw the welcome introduction of a new program: Leading the Family Office (LFO) in 2013.

In 2019 the IMD-Pictet Sustainability in Family Business Award was launched celebrating and rewarding effort, performance and progress in the field of sustainability.

In September 2019, Professor Peter Vogel has taken over the directorship of the Global Family Business Center. Before him, many prestigious Family Business Faculty have led the Center over the years - John Ward, Joachim Schwass, Denise Rouvinez - all have delivered premium programs and published cutting-edge research and insights in family business, contributing significantly to both the reach and reputation the Center continues to enjoy today.

The story continues...