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IMD case takes centre stage in “world cup” of family business competitions

During the 2021 Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition, business school students from all over the world competed to devise the best solution for a case by Benoit Leleux, Stephan Schmidheiny Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, and Marta Widz, Research Fellow.
January 2021


The annual knockout competition, organised by the Grossman School of Business at the University of Vermont, draws on an exclusive selection of case studies about family business to test the knowledge and problem solving skills of groups of undergraduate and graduate students.

“Jebsen & Jessen Family Enterprise: A Hong from the Cold”, published by Leleux and Widz in 2017, featured as the first of three cases tackled by the students. The graduate competition was won by Spain’s ESADE Business School, while the Lazaridis School at the Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada took the undergraduate prize.

“As organizer of the eighth edition of the Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition of the Grossman School of Business at the University of Vermont that attracted over 200 competitors and judges from five continents, I am grateful for IMD’s case contributions,” said Pramodita Sharma, Professor and Schlesinger-Grossman Chair of Family Business at the University of Vermont.

“The cases used in the competition are selected after a tough competition that attracts submissions from educators around the world. IMD’s focus on issues important to family enterprises is evident in the top-notch cases provided to this competition year after year. This case illustrates the partnership between two families over three generations, and the unique governance system these families use to build a sustainable global enterprise.”

The IMD case features the winner of the 2016 IMD Global Family Business Award, Jebsen & Jessen Family Enterprise – an Asia-focused industrial group with Danish roots. It explores the challenges faced by the firm in onboarding the next generation, managing diversification and navigating the future.

“Marta Widz served as a judge in this year’s competition, her second consecutive stint in the role, providing important insights to fellow judges and students alike,” added Sharma.

Case work by Leleux and Widz about two other winners of the annual IMD family business award, Pentland and De Agostini, was also selected as test material for participants in the 2020 edition of the case competition.

“It is a great honour for our case to be chosen for this prestigious ‘world cup’ of family business competitions, which offers an invaluable showcase for academic research to the international business school community. Our selection underlines the strength and rigour of IMD’s research activities and our focus on delivering real learning and real impact for family businesses,” Dr. Widz said.

“It is deeply satisfying to see our engagement with the past winners of the IMD Global Family Business Award find relevance with such a wide audience at the Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition,” said Professor Leleux. “These case studies about challenges faced by privately-owned family enterprises offer important lessons for many other businesses grappling with similar issues. We would like to thank the University of Vermont for their continued support for, and interest in, our work.”