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Family Enterprise Education at Telfer

A vital part of the Canadian and global economy, family-owned enterprises make up over 60% of private sector firms in Canada, generate nearly 50% of GDP, and employ nearly 7 million people. Despite this, entrepreneurial families are often misunderstood. Considering their unique challenges and dynamics there is increased recognition that specialist knowledge and tools are needed within the study and practice of family enterprise.

With internationally recognized academics, thought leadership, and a network of impactful practitioners and business families, the Telfer School of Management offers students several opportunities to increase and develop their understanding of family enterprise through the following academic offerings.

Executive Program

The Certificate in Responsible Ownership is a one-of-a-kind program designed to support next generation leaders of enterprising families in their personal and professional development. This non-credit program – offered jointly by the Family Enterprise Legacy Institute (FELI) and Telfer Executive Programs – aims to equip next generation members with the tools needed to succeed in their envisioned roles of trusted family member, responsible business owner, prospective business leader, and/or steward of family wealth.

The program is centered on a highly interactive and experiential design that includes case studies, simulations, group learning activities, and deep dives into key concepts. The facilitation of group discussion, individual learning via mentoring and one-on-one interactions with the instructor(s) will also be utilized in the program. Customizable to suit the individual needs of each family, the program is applicable to next generation members from enterprising families between the ages of 18-45 years old.

For more information, download the Certificate in Responsible Ownership brochure, or visit Telfer Executive Programs.


Course code: ADM4396 (BCom), ADM6394 (MBA)

Advising Family Business allows BCom and MBA students to delve into the most fundamental challenges facing family businesses today. Both practical and applied, this course provides realistic insight and tools directly applicable to the practice of advising family-led firms around the globe.

The highly interactive course considers topics such as succession issues and planning, resolving family conflicts, developing proper governance, and the importance of communication in both the business and family. Case studies hone students’ critical thinking and analytic skills, leading to a deeper understanding of best practice. Prominent guest speakers who work directly in the field present to the class each week, sharing insider experiences.

With the growing understanding of the importance and challenges of entrepreneurial families in our economy, this course would be relevant for any BCom or MBA students.

Course code: MGT6190

An expanding body of research and understanding has led to significant developments in the study of family enterprise in recent years. In Family Entrepreneurship, MSc students delve into pertinent literature from the field, developing knowledge about family entrepreneurship and gaining the ability to critically analyze key topics.

Using top family business journals, students will explore key literature and concepts, identify important contributions in family entrepreneurship and apply their understanding beyond current knowledge. A highly interactive course, students will present and lead discussions among peers. The course will also teach students to write conceptual papers in preparation for writing their thesis proposal and thesis.

Course code: ADM2313 (English); ADM2713 (French)

The Entrepreneurial Society considers entrepreneurship from all perspectives – in new ventures or large companies, as well as intrapreneurship inside government or not-for-profit organizations. Embedded in the course will be topics in family entrepreneurship, including two modules specifically covering the evolution of entrepreneurship to family enterprise, as well as key issues involving family succession.

Diverse subjects such as social entrepreneurship, women and minorities in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance will be covered, as well as entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy and a focus for policy. Apart from lectures, numerous case studies and guest speakers will enhance the learning experience. Students will leave the course with a clear understanding of the nature and importance of entrepreneurship in our society and an appreciation of the various aspects and components that make up the broader study of entrepreneurship.

Course code: MGT8105

Part of the Telfer PhD in Management, Contexts of Entrepreneurship explores key topics in the burgeoning field of entrepreneurship research. Three modules focus specifically on research at the intersection of entrepreneurship and family enterprise, delving into research and discussion about families, transgenerational entrepreneurship, legacy, and governance. Other topics include cultural and institutional entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial marketing, the gig economy, entrepreneurship in transition economies and entrepreneurship as emancipation.

Students will advance their knowledge around important contexts in entrepreneurial research, while also gaining familiarity with the literature and developing the ability to think critically about the topics and engage in related research. This course will additionally help students become more adept at reviewing and writing papers, facilitating the writing of their thesis proposal and thesis.

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