FAME projectFAMily BusinEss Sustainability and Growth.

A former project helping SME Family Business (FB) owners and/or managers to cope with the complex challenges of the imposing generational transition, the INSIST project, produced country reports on the partner countries’ SME FB systems and the findings proved to be much more significant than anticipated. The results of Insist research, outreaching much beyond the scope of that project can be boiled down in two major outcomes:

  • There is an increasing need for appropriate SME FB-mentor trainings with special focus on soft skills, hard knowledge and competences in the countries, but such courses are essentially missing. This conclusion originated another ongoing VET project, called TRUST-ME, targeting to produce VET teaching modules for fast-track SME FB-mentor training.
  • During the implementation of the project Insist partners realised that a very dynamic development of the FB research is evolving rapidly in Europe. Family Businesses (FB), giving an overwhelming contribution to the countries’ GDPs (above 70%!), are endangered without having external support helping them develop a sustainable strategy in general and manage a velvet GT in particular.


Getting in contact with protagonists in FB issues in Europe like the Cepor-Transeo (EU association) and the BUSINESSHUNGARY - BUSINESSEUROPE (EU federation) partners understood that INSIST could be considered as a light VET medication to solve the problem.
But, in order to handle the problematic in the long run partners need to resort to heavier measures and develop a much more in depth remedy, a complete 2nd year of a Master programme with an extended scope for the SME FBs.
In particular it turned out that governance transmission is a real weak point of the GT and that internationalisation should be among the priorities at the very first stages of GT. This was the real genesis of the present project proposal.
The employment aspects of the proposed trainings are not negligible. Appropriate HR policy of SME FBs makes new engagements possible and this applies to the employment of minorities and immigrants as well.

An ongoing preparatory research shows that beyond targeting the known needs of the SME FBs there is a special need for and a promising potential to emphasise a neglected area of research, namely the analysis of adaptability of theories well elaborated for large enterprises but not jet modified to meet the needs of SME FBs. Sustainable corporate financing, mergers and acquisitions, environmental accounting are outstanding examples for such research. Conditions of SME FBs’ integration into the global value chains as subcontractors or suppliers are to be analysed and defined.
To be able to get noticed by large firms they need to be able to present themselves and their offerings appropriately. They need to understand how global value chains work and to understand how they need to be able to adjust to the changing needs. Global standards and global business practices normally are not what they would follow on daily basis, but if they want to get integrated into a global value chain that is required. Moreover, ownership matters, deepened generation transition issues must also be built into the teaching content. Another point unreavelled from the preparatory work: Countries suffer from multiple dualities: There is a gap between foreign owned and nationally owned business performance and behaviour. The behaviour of the suppliers of major internationals integrated into global value chains is also markedly different from suppliers to the domestic market. These investigations will provide with basic material for the Master’s content development.

In addition to the SME / Family Businesses (FB) stakeholders, two immediate key audiences are targeted:

  • The first target group inside the institutions is composed of the teachers/trainers who are not participating in the curriculum development but are potential trainers of the new curricula. These teachers/trainers will be informed through the project site which will be continually filled in with the elements of the project development and they also will be invited to the project meeting and the multiplier events to be organised in their country.
  • Another target group inside the university partners is the student group already registered in the first year of the Master in entrepreneurship. For them the FAME courses will offer an option for the second year of the Master. These students will be informed by the student orientation offices of the institution, by the Student Workshops of the project, by the project site and also by the national project meetings.

Expected impact and outcomes

The participating universities have rich course offer in the field of entrepreneurship and they also have Master courses on general entrepreneurial issues and also VET level courses on Family Business (FB) themes especially in the topic of generational transition. However, they don’t have inclusive Master 2nd year in the field of general sustainability of Family Businesses (FB).

  • The project aims at this development and after an intensive preparatory research carried out beyond the frames of the proposal, the participant professorial team will experience a joint innovative curriculum development enriching largely their course creating mastery.
  • The compulsory introduction of blended learning elements into the courses adds also to the development of their personal competences and skills.
  • FAME programme will enlarge the curriculum systems of the partner institutions with a highly needed Master specialisation and will consequently strengthen the attractive profile of the institution.
  • Another impact (short term) on the participants of the Student Workshops and long term on the general student body in economics) will be exerted on the students’ population in entrepreneurship Master with a new specialisation for the 2nd year of this Master as an option.
  • The other target group to be impacted: FB owners and managers who are facing the challenges of making their company sustainable. The help offered to these FBs in form of trainings will enable them to ensure sustainability, to avoid firm dissolutions and consequently will impact on firms’ survival rates.
  • The planned national recognition/accreditation procedures are expected to enhance the attractive character of the training; preparatory international analysis points out the potential convincing strength of such a Master when it comes to acquire bank loans and investor supports.
  • A local impact will be exerted on the participating teaching staffs of the university partners. Based upon an in-depth preparatory research their joint international effort to develop Master level modules in FB sustainability issues will certainly strengthen their competences in course development.

Students in the 2nd year of entrepreneurial Master course having selected the FB sustainability option will enable themselves to start or overtake family businesses with inclusive, time resistant business plans.
FB owners and/or managers having registered in the courses will come out with knowledge and competences to work out sustainability strategies for their companies overarching the entire activity field.This impact can be registered on regional and national level as well since the project’s intensive dissemination activities will reach a large FB population with the information of the existing learning possibilities. This impact on existing FBs will produce important upshots on employment issues: the extreme importance of enhancing survival rates of FB’s is shown by the fact that existing companies conserve, on average, five jobs whereas start-ups generate, on average, two jobs.
As a follow-up impact, after the project’s lifetime period, the graduates of the courses can operate as long term process counsellors for FBs. All these impacts will be strengthened by the national recognitions/accreditations and also by the bilateral agreements of the university partners on double degree.

The main intellectual outputs of the project are produced by collation of the results of the off-project preparatory research, by the innovative curriculum development process producing the content of the Master course training modules and the analyses of the work-based teaching solutions.
The outcomes of the preparatory reasearch will be fully and freely disseminated to all interested persons, institutions and organisations through the partners’ websites.

The teaching material will be aimed at two target groups: regular Master students and operating FB entrepreneurs.
The teaching materials will be put on the partners’ respective websites and so free and open access will be ensured for all interested public.

The blended-learning courses will be delivered by all consortium university members towards the mentioned target groups. The access procedure to the regular students’ Master training is defined in the regulations of the partner institutions.

Regular trainings for the entrepreneurs will be fee-based (beyond some pilot phase). The participation in these trainings cannot be assured free since it implies regular involvement of the teaching/training staff.

Further resources dedicated to FAME project