The WIFU Self-Concept

It is the WIFU’s aspiration to be one of the best in the field of family business research worldwide. In order to meet this high standard in education and research and to be able to feed our findings back into practice we have formulated this self-concept. This commitment enables us to constantly monitor ourselves and our work so that we can measure our success.

Our self-concept clarifies our mission that characterises all our activities, namely:

  • our academic standard that we have given ourselves
  • our positioning in the scientific community
  • the interconnection with the strategy of the Faculty of Management & Economics of Witten/Herdecke University.

In short: What does the WIFU stand for?

THE MISSION -„How we define ourselves“

  •  The WIFU is an Institute by Family Businesses for Family Businesses
  • Our primary tasks are to address systematically the specific challenges of family businesses
  • Our research is not “commissioned work” to be conducted on behalf of particular enterprises or interests
  • We explore specific requirements and problems of family businesses and process them for theoretical analysis, further research and teaching.

Adopted measures:

  • We employ highly qualified and selected entrepreneurs with the competence to integrate research and practice.
  • Scientific research is consistently oriented to society’s needs: the WIFU is no “ivory tower”! The numerous WIFU projects reflect this approach as they are consistently directed towards everyday (entrepreneurial) practice. In research and education we actively integrate members from family businesses and business families.
  • The WIFU staff promotes the public visibility of the Institute on a regular basis. The value of our scientific results becomes evident as we pass on our findings to those they were developed for.

THE ACADEMIC STANDARD – “What we expect from ourselves”

  •  The WIFU consistently adopts a trans-disciplinary approach and positions itself on a meta-theoretical level combining multiple theoretical approaches. It is one of our institute’s objectives to develop a system theory of family business.
  • Although the WIFU intends to meet its own standard, namely to participate in theoretical discourse with the scientific community on a high level, we do not want to limit our perspectives to one theory to the exclusion of all others.
  • Apart from this conceptual focus, we aim to provide empirical research that is compatible – in quality and quantity – with international standards.

Adopted measures:

  • The structure of the WIFU reflects its trans-disciplinary nature.
  • A major objective is to establish and implement a pool of scientific methods compatible with the theory of social systems.
  • The master degree program “Family Business Management (M.Sc.)” and the trans-disciplinary doctoral program express the institute’s requirement to offer high quality research and education.

OUR POSITION IN THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY – “How we want to be recognized by others”

  • The WIFU assumes an active role as an exceptional “School of Thought” and participates in high level international scientific debate.
  • It is important to stimulate this discourse with original and imaginative ideas. We are challenged to give fresh impetus to family business research in this way.
  • A major aim is therefore to increase the WIFU’s visibility in the national and international scientific community.

Adopted measures:

  • Regular attendance of WIFU staff at relevant international conferences.
  • Research partnerships with other national and international institutes.
  • Active integration of international experts in WIFU activities
  • Initiation of academic conferences and exchange platforms
  • Giving critical impulses into mainstream research and stressing the risk that an increasingly narrowed scientific system refers only “to itself”.

More information about our concept is available here.