Case studies on family firms
Are you a teacher looking for case studies that:
- You can use in your classroom,
- Are related to family firms,
- Are free to use without any copyright problems,
- Come from real life companies,
- Are original,
- Might be fun for your students to solve?
You have arrived at the right place!
Ulysses provides case studies of real-life family firms that students from higher education can work on as a new challenge. You are free to utilize this material and implement it into your classes and courses.
Case 1: Anghel Ceramics
Anghel, an Italian craft-based family firm is located in the North of Italy. The company, in its third generation, is now facing a fundamental strategic dilemma: how to successfully expand into the global market, while maintaining values and emotions? Do you have any ideas to help ANGHEL solving this issue?
Case 2: Eagle Travel
In addition to the many negative effects of the COVID, this pandemic can also be an opportunity for family businesses succession since managing business during COVID requires news skills that can be brought by the involvement of the new generation in business. In other words, when it comes to generational shifts at Eagle Travel, it’s always a problem when we do at the company certain things differently than we have done before – but COVID made it obvious that we had to do things differently.
Case 3: CERETO Firearms
CERETO is an Italian family firm that has grown and invested in technology throughout its life cycle, while maintaining its core values that have characterized the firm for centuries and have allowed the family business to become the world leader in the industry. Nowadays, with the advent of new innovative technological tools, the firm is witnessing a resistance from long-lasting employees to adapt to cutting-edge software and Industry 4.0 technologies. Simultaneously, the firm needs to preserve the unique artisan skills within the business. CERETO’s CEO needs to find the solution to the strategic dilemmas the firm is facing.
Case 4: Hollu Soap Factory
The family business hollu Systemhygiene GmbH is a small soap factory founded in 1905 in Innsbruck, Austria. Sticking to its first principals and products, the company came a long way, expanded widely and developed innovative coordinated cleaning systems for all areas of cleaning and hygiene. Within the last years, the company actively fosters the implementation of the 17 SDGs in every part of its strategy. Doing so, the company’s aim was not only to change its own business, but also to inspire other companies too to jump on the ‘band wagon’ of sustainability and make the planet a better place. The ambition of HOLLU is “to actively shape the future of hygiene” by focusing on the following key pillars: developing high-quality, eco-friendly cleaning solutions, continuous investment in innovation and technology, social responsibility, and sustainability in environmental, economic, and social matters to keep the planet safe for future generations.
Case 5: Montage Education
There may come a time in a company's life when external circumstances change to the point where the company's managers consider moving its headquarters to another country. This decision is never easy, but in the case of a family business it can be quite dramatic, because it is not just the company that has to move, but the whole family - or part of it - that also has to move. The owners of Montage Education find themselves in this situation: either they remain in the country where it has become impossible to sell their products for legal reasons, or the new generation chooses a new country to continue operating.
Case 6: Müller Hotel
The involvement of multiple family members in family business activities can complicate the family firm’s governance. This case study about the Müller company displays the benefits and challenges imposed by a multigenerational organization structure and a successor team of several siblings on family business governance and succession planning.
Case 7: Peak Hotel
A family that runs a four-star hotel in the Austrian Alps has challenges with regard to family firm succession. The family firm is currently in its second generation, and the owners, Perry and Patricia, want to develop a plan to hand the business to the next generation. The entrepreneurial family is dealing with change and transformation processes among the family members. This case supports students at both undergraduate level and graduate level to consider options and issues in the succession planning of family firms. It provides the opportunity to identify and discuss options with regard to the succession plan, but also identify and evaluate potential succession planning strategies for the family firm. Students will consider how successors and predecessors communicate during the succession process and which ways they use to solve intergenerational communication conflicts and misunderstandings.
Case 8: Schiffer Boats
Schiffer is a leader in the production of luxury sailboats. Production takes place entirely in Austria, and international expansion has been gradual with expansion into culturally close markets. Now the goal, while transitioning to the fourth generation, is to expand globally. The student is expected to identify with the CEO of the company and make suggestions on strategy in terms of value chain organization and marketing strategies.
Case 9: Ultrascan
Ultrascan is a high-tech company founded in Italy in early 80’s and rapidly become a global leader in sawmill and wood scanning industry. To access financial resources that would allow global growth, the founding family in 1996 decided to enter into a partnership with Schwarz family, who bought 70% of the company’s shares but remained a passive majority shareholder, while the founder maintained the rest of shareholding and his position as CEO. In 2020 a non-family member CEO was appointed by the founder, while the founder as a prominent figure in the industry continued to be the driving force of the company as the President. The next generation of the founding Bianchi family is showing interest in participating in this global family business, while the Schwarz family continues to express mostly expectations of positive results and is not actively involved in running the company.
Case 10: Black Truck Ltd.
Joe Black, founder and managing director of Black Truck Ltd. – a Hungarian family firm – has had an exciting journey from the distribution of spare truck parts to a nationally renowned truck and trailer service, repair, and maintenance company. In addition, Joe personally experienced the challenges of generational change, as he now works in the company not only with his wife, but also with his sons. He also told us about this process and some challenges they face during the interview we conducted with him and his son as part of the Ulysses Contest, from which this case study was made.
Case 11: Reicher Watchmakers
Time has – literally – come for generational change! Within the framework of the Ulysses Contest, Stephen Reicher, CEO of Reicher Watchmakers – a Hungarian family firm –, talked about how he got into the family business and learned entrepreneurship after a career change. During the interview, Stephen Reicher shared his experiences and thoughts about the process of generational change, based on which this case study was compiled.
Case 12: Greg’s Tea
The owner of Greg’s Tea, Suzy, is already working as a second-generation entrepreneur for the success of the family business at Greg’s Tea Ltd, a company that is based on centuries of knowledge. Moreover, it is currently preparing the third generation for conscious adaptation. In the case study, you can get an insight into the dynamics of the family business, the challenges, and the advantages that Suzy faces.
Case 13: Pittsburgh Opticians
Pittsburgh Opticians is a 50-year-old, second-generation Hungarian optical business, born out of the leadership challenges of a successful mother in her profession, as a corner shop in the corner of her husband's tailor shop. The generational change has become relevant again with the third generation coming up. At the same time, a completely new business model, a boutique-optic shop, was opened, which also brought in external employees, who also represent a different generation than the Pittsburgh siblings. The case study will therefore give you an insight into the management style of the optics business, led by the Pittsburgh family, with its family atmosphere, and the difficulties of the generation and the model change.
Case 14: Veggie Garden Ltd
Veggie Garden Ltd is a family business group that has a 13-year history and started as a one-man business, where the founder did not want to grow bigger than what one person could manage, but it has grown into a giant. The group operates various businesses to manage different processes, such as fruit and vegetable retailing, the Green Salon, fruit and vegetable wholesaling, bakery trade, butchery, and plant. Recently, the founder's son, who had been promoted to managerial status in his early twenties, had become involved in the business, which had led to dissatisfaction and conflict among older employees. Even though some time has passed since then, he still finds it difficult to be accepted, even though he has brought quite a lot of innovation to the company. He is currently working on how to develop an automatic competitor-based pricing system and is looking for ideas from those who are solving the case.