Centre of Expertise in Family Business
Strengthening family businesses
Dutch Centre of Expertise in Family Business conducts practice-oriented research into family businesses and hand these insights back to them. This way, we empower family businesses so they can become stronger entrepreneurs. At least 68% of companies in the Netherlands are family businesses. This makes them incredibly important in contributing to a healthy economy. Moreover, family businesses are different. Because, besides business interests, there are also family interests. Our research focuses on that special relationship. Our knowledge helps entrepreneurs find the right balance.
Our research projects
Multidisciplinary, approachable and preferably together with the region. Our mission is to bring practice-oriented research closer to all our partners and stakeholders - be they students, companies or professionals. From research and innovation to solving (social) issues: we have extensive experience in formulating, setting up and conducting practice-oriented research and a wealth of in-house knowledge. We rely on the know-how of professors, PhD students, lecturers and students, thus forming one community and (also your) partner for knowledge development and knowledge circulation - both in the region and on a national and international level. Would you like to know more about a project? We would be happy to tell you more about it and share our knowledge with you.
Identity | We’re a family business! And (how) do we communicate that?
This is a practice-based study on communication strategy and reputation management of family businesses. With the proliferation of comparison options on the internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the competition. Consumers can choose from a wide range of high-quality products and services and their suppliers and can easily comment positively or negatively on them in their reviews. As a result of these developments, companies face the challenge of engaging consumers in other ways than through their core business. They need to excel in their product and service offerings, while also differentiating themselves from their competitors in other ways.
This has increased the importance of good reputation management, including an effective communication strategy. This project was prompted by a question from family-owned SMEs in the hospitality industry as to whether their status as a family business, and thus their family identity, could add value in strengthening their reputation and how they could then properly translate this identity into communication. There was still little knowledge about reputation management within SMEs. Moreover, there was a lack of understanding of how the family could or should be involved. In this research, the professorship of Family Businesses worked together with Saxion, Nyenrode Business University, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, JongRECRON and 12 SME family businesses.
Reputation management of family businesses
The aim was to gain knowledge and insight with project partners into reputation management of family-run businesses in the hospitality industry, especially on how to leverage the unique, family-affiliated identity in communication. The result is a tool that allows family businesses to develop communication policies that suit their stakeholders, are firmly rooted in the company's identity and have the support of all stakeholders.
The action-oriented approach of this study enabled the business owners and family members involved to explore possibilities and impossibilities for their own businesses and to agree on the content and nature of behaviour and communication with stakeholders. This enabled them to increase the effectiveness of their communication, thereby enhancing their reputation and ultimately their competitive position.
- Status: completed project
- Project duration: autumn of 2018 until spring of 2022
- Partners: Saxion, Nyenrode Business University, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, JongRECRON and 12 family SMEs
Click here(opens in new tab) for the workbook created. This workbook provides family business owners in the hospitality industry with tools for aligning their communications and other business elements with their guests. The booklet provides insight into business and family identity and the desirability of family business profiling. Entrepreneurs can then consider for each business element what improvements they could make to align their image with their desired customer segment.
Albertha Wielsma(opens in new tab), project leader of the Professorship of Family Businesses
Identity | Broad wealth creation
Broad wealth creation by SME family businesses
From 'ad hoc' to planned approach
In October 2022, we launched a programme to guide and support SME family businesses in planning broad wealth creation activities in such a way as to enhance their social impact.
There is a growing social focus on wealth creation beyond financial prosperity and a call for businesses to contribute to it. Family SMEs find it only natural to contribute, but also indicate that such broad wealth creation activities are not embedded in their current business strategy.
One of the entrepreneurs made the following statement:
"Broad wealth creation is a theme that’s etched into our DNA, we want to give back to the local area, in socio-economic terms, but in the past year it has become important in society at large. It's also an increasingly important theme for customers and end users."
SME family businesses
Initially, we are starting with 8 family SMEs. Other family businesses can join later. Together with these first 8 family SMEs, we will be developing interventions. In a next round, these interventions will be further developed.
We hope this research will help increase the social impact of SME family businesses by generating knowledge about how SME family businesses (can) develop in broad wealth creation; the (re)recognition of SME family businesses in broad wealth creation; developing awareness of opportunities that broad wealth creation can offer SME family businesses.
How do we do this?
By developing a workbook with a scan for SME family businesses to provide a clear overview of the current and desired situation regarding broad wealth creation, including interventions to embed broad wealth activities in strategy and make social impact, by means of scientific articles, professional publications, teaching cases and seminars.
This project is in line with the Knowledge and Innovation Agenda (KIA) on Energy Transition and Sustainability and Social Profitability.
- Status: Ongoing project from October 2022 - October 2024
- Project duration: 2 years
- Theme: broad wealth creation.
- Partners: Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (Business Innovation Research Centre, Professorship of Purpose Economy), Utrecht University (School of Economics), FBNed (National Association of Family Businesses)
- Principal: SIA RAAK-mkb
Karin Rozendal(opens in new tab), Family businesses office manager
- Identity | We’re a family business! And (how) do we communicate that?
Strategy | Family Next
Family Next provides support to family businesses in Overijssel that want to work on digitalization or sustainability. Or family businesses where the next generation is about to take over the business. For them, Family Next is a helping hand!
What is Family Next?
Family businesses are the backbone of the Overijssel economy. We are proud of our fine family businesses that create dynamism and employment. In Family Next, the professorship of Family Businesses, the province of Overijssel, Kennispoort Regio Zwolle, MKB Deventer and Ondernemend Twente collaborate to help family businesses in Overijssel move forward. Our support focuses on three themes: digitalization, sustainability and succession. We are there for family businesses that want to get started with one of these themes and have at least five employees.
What does the MKB deal consist of?
We work with experienced entrepreneurs who act as coaches supporting family businesses in the steps they want to take. Together they look for an approach that suits the company.
In Learn-from-each-other circles, family businesses exchange experiences with other entrepreneurs. In this way they can share their stories to help others.
Financial support is available in the form of a voucher to implement the plans.
And what’s our part in this?
During and after the project, the professorship of Family Businesses measures the effectiveness of this support. This way we will find out whether the approach is successful and whether it is suitable to be made available in other provinces.
Are you an entrepreneur from Overijssel and interested?
Check out the call on the Overijssel province website(opens in new tab) and feel free to contact one of the participating organizations:
- MKB Deventer: email@example.com(opens in new tab) or 0570 75 80 21(opens in new tab)
- Kennispoort Regio Zwolle: firstname.lastname@example.org(opens in new tab) or 038 202 20 20(opens in new tab)
- Ondernemend Twente: email@example.com(opens in new tab) or 053 484 99 80(opens in new tab)
On 8 October 2021, there was a webcast for interested parties to catch up! Commissioner Eddy van Hijum explained why family businesses are so important for the province of Overijssel. Our Judith van Helvert took them through the latest developments in family businesses and, naturally, a family business entrepreneur spoke. Of course, they were also told what the Family Next programme has to offer. Click here for the webcast(opens in new tab).
- Status: ongoing project
- Project duration: 2020 - 2023
- Partners: province of Overijssel, Kennispoort Regio Zwolle, MKB Deventer, Ondernemend Twente, industry organizations
- Website Family Next (opens in new tab)
Karin Rozendal(opens in new tab), office manager professorship of Family businesses
- Strategy | Family Next
Our professors and researchers
Judith van Helvert-Beugels
Judith van Helvert-Beugels is professor in Family Businesses at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences since June 2021.
Looking for a speaker for a workshop, guest lesson or other meeting? We provide lectures, presentations, workshops and guest lectures. Feel free to inquire about the possibilities and costs. Or we can explore what our researchers can do for you.
Please mail(opens in new tab) or call us at +31 884698426.