Case Study

Carvajal: Building a holistic family enterprise

7 pages
May 2024
Reference: IMD-7-2438

The Carvajal case is based on interviews with four family members and executives of Carvajal S.A., one of Latin America’s leading family businesses. The case focuses on how, over the span of 120 years, the Carvajal family built a holistic family enterprise to govern both its business and its family ownership structure. The system includes the typical governance attributes of a large family enterprise – including a family council, shareholders’ assembly and family constitution – and in addition, it puts special emphasis on entrepreneurship and social and economic welfare. Yet, with the family expanding in size and scattering geographically, the Carvajal family must continue to innovate and adapt their family enterprise model. The case explores the particular challenges related to family governance, ownership and CEO succession. It details how Carvajal established NextGen programs and fostered entrepreneurship as a “glue” to bind the family together. It also shows how Carvajal achieved collective impact by aligning the purpose of the business with the purpose of the family foundation, the family council and the wider family enterprise. From a broader perspective, the case illustrates how to manage family governance issues in a multi-generational family enterprise by understanding and applying the mechanisms that are available, and by maintaining a healthy balance between family leadership and independent governance.

Learning Objective
  • To explore how to solve complex family governance issues in multi-generational family businesses and master the structural tools that are available to help maintain coherence and unity.
  • To find a “glue” that will bind family members together and keep them interested in the family enterprise.
  • To discern how to achieve a healthy balance between family leadership and independent governance.
  • To observe how a purpose-led family enterprise focused on social and economic development can be built.
  • To analyze how mature family enterprises continue to grow and evolve.
Family Business, Governance, Ownership, Family Office, Family Council, Family Constitution, Succession, Chief Executive Officer Selection, Board, Development, Education, Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship, Next Generation, Conflict Resolution, Decision Making, Environmental Social and Governance, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Responsible Production
South America, Colombia
Carvajal, Manufacturing, Paper and Pulp Products, Packaging and Containers, Consumer Goods, Furniture, Information Technology
120 years
Field Research
© 2024
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note, Video
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]


Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Discover our latest research
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics