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.

Family business chairs 

We are very fortunate to benefit from two Chairs dedicated to the study and support of Family Businesses.

The Wild Group Chair for Family Business

The Wild Chair in Family Business has been instrumental in funding research and educational activities at the Center since 1998.

The purpose of this Chair is the exploration of the management needs of family held businesses and strategic partnerships in this field. Another of its aims is the furthering of entrepreneurial culture throughout business owning families and enterprising families.

The Chair was donated by Hans-Peter Wild, former owner of Wild Flavors and current owner and chairman of Capri-Sun Group.

The Debiopharm Chair for Family Philanthropy

The purpose of this Chair is to increase the social and financial impact of family giving as well as to develop best practices in family philanthropy. Another of its aims is to leverage philanthropy as a catalyst for the transmission of family values across generations, branches and nationalities.

The Chair was donated in 2016 by Thierry Mauvernay, President and Delegate of the Board of Debiopharm Group.

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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.

Many prestigious Family Business Faculty have led the Center over the years and 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...