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OFIN 2955A - Family Capitalism in the Digital Age

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English


Basic knowledge of corporate finance, corporate strategy, asset management, and economics is needed as well as a good understanding of entrepreneurship and strong interest in financial news and economic and financial history.

Course Description

It is commonly asserted that our modern economies have been profoundly shaped by entrepreneurs who envisioned the future of business, especially by focusing on long-term investment, innovating, and participating to the global social and economic progress. The Family Capitalism in the Digital Age ambitions to provide the students of the Master of Finance & Strategy with a holistic and comprehensive understanding of how and why family firms have thrived historically and especially demonstrated such a high level of resilience in facing the globalization in general and the great financial crisis we have been through since 2008-2009 in particular. In order to achieve this ambition, we will present the key forces fostering these family corporate successes as well as the major challenges they have to deal with in order to be efficiently managed, preserved, and grown over generations. Family Capitalism in the Digital Age will combine theoretical teaching and practical case studies, putting into perspective leading family companies in order to globally and transversally understand the key factors and values sustaining their successful history. We will understand that these powerful family firms often combined in an original way the charismatic leadership of a patriarch founder, an industrial vision and ambition, opportunistic boldness and a very strong ethic. We will try to analyze as well why several family firms collapsed whereas other fostered over time. We will also figure out why “Family Offices” are more and more considered as providers of capital alternatively to private equity firms, sovereign funds, financial institutions, and corporate companies and why they are considered as “different”. "Family Capitalism in the Digital Age" is a transversal teaching which constitutes a crossroad between corporate finance, asset management, corporate strategy, ethics and economic and financial history. The geographical scope will be global.


  • EDBERG, Grégory E. (Vice-Président en Fusions & Acquisitions, Messier Maris & Associés)
  • FERRON, Pierre (Ingénieur Patrimonial Sénior – Edmond de Rothschild)

Pedagogical format

Seminar 6 x 2 hours : 12 hours. The Conference will rely on three pillars: - a theoretical teaching on the role of families as business bodies, the challenges they are facing and how they respond to those, with the rising role of “family offices”, which constitute a credible alternative class of investors, differentiating themselves in a unique way ; - case studies which will figure out how flagships international family groups have been progressively built (leadership, strategy, major corporate finance transactions, philanthropic actions, etc.) ; - the participation of external seasoned speakers with a deep knowledge and involvement in family affairs at various levels with especially representatives of the new generation of family firms, family officers, entrepreneurs, and private and investment bankers.

Course validation

2 credits ; continuous assessment grade.


Workload for students will mainly consist in preparing the presentations of case studies of family groups. It will imply extensive and intelligent research, notably in archives, paper and digital resources of the Sciences Po library. These business cases will lead us to understand why family firms can either prosper or decline.

Required reading

  • “Principles of Corporate Finance”, by Richard Brealey and Steward Meyers, Ed. Mc Graw Hill
  • “Family Capitalism”, by Harold James, Ed. Belknap Harvard

Additional required reading

  • “The Complete Family Office Handbook”, by Kirby Rosplock, Ed. Bloomberg
  • “Governance in Family Enterprises”, by Alexander Koeberle-Schmid, Denise Kenyon-Rouvinez, Ed. Palgrave MacMillan
  • “Strategic Planning for the Family Business”, by Randel Carloc, Ed. Palgrave MacMillan
  • “Family firm: a resilient model for the 21st century”, PwC
  • “Family Office Survey”, Deloitte