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‘Family Business: Cherish Your Identity and Use It in Your Communication’

Master’s degree student Katharina Hubmann and Bachelor’s degree student Paulina Grillo have won the Ten Clarenwater Thesis Award.

During the award ceremony of the Family Businesses Award 2017, the Ten Clarenwater Thesis Award was awarded to the best Master’s thesis and the best Bachelor’s thesis on family businesses. This award is an initiative of Windesheim University’s Dutch Centre of Expertise in Family Business, the Ten Clarenwater Foundation. Both students won an amount of € 2,500 as well as publication of their thesis. Entries for the award came from eleven different universities in the Netherlands, Sweden, England, Italy and Germany.

Best Master’s Thesis

German Katharina Hubmann, who studied at Maastricht University, wrote the winning Master’s thesis on family businesses in 2016. Her research focused on the identity of family companies and how they communicate about it. The results show that communication about the family business identity has a positive impact on business performance, provided that it matches the perceived identity. The jury was impressed with the quality of her research: the combination of the theoretical framework, data from quantitative research and the connection to actual communication on the company websites. “It shows that family businesses must cherish their identity and use it as a strategic element,” said the jury. It also reports that the Master’s thesis by Lutz Stoffels of Universität Witten / Herdecke from Germany deserves an honourable mention.

Best Bachelor’s Thesis

Paulina Grillo wrote the best Bachelor’s thesis in 2016. The thesis written by this student of WHU / Otto Beisheim’s School of Management from Germany deals with the impact of family businesses’ non-economic goals on financial decision-making within their company. Grillo conducted qualitative research at German family companies and found that the willingness to abandon non-economic goals increases with more external financing in the family business. ‘A relevant and interesting study, particularly in light of the scant knowledge developed in this area so far. The results are intriguing and the decision tree Grillo has developed is highly useful,” said the jury. The Bachelor’s thesis by Franziska Holle, a student of WHU-Otto Beisheim’s School of Management from Germany, received an honourable mention.

Family Businesses and Higher Education

“With this award we want to encourage higher education to pay more attention to family businesses,” says Ilse Matser, Director of the Dutch Centre of Expertise in Family Business. “Although it is the most common type of enterprise in the world, few students come into contact with the particular characteristics and challenges of enterprising families and their businesses. We also feel it’s important for knowledge about family businesses to be further developed. For the award winners to be announced during the award ceremony of the Family Enterprises Award adds extra shine; moreover, this may be an additional incentive for students currently graduating to take part in next year’s edition, which has a deadline of 15 February 2018.’

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