Workshop at AoM Conference led by Professors Ethel Brundin (JIBS STEP team) and Peter Rosa (Edinburgh STEP team)

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Professors Ethel Brundin, JIBS and Peter Rosa, University of Edinburgh, convened a four-hour workshop about family businesses at the first Academy of Management Africa.

The AoM Africa conference took place in Johannesburg at GIBS – Gordon Institute of Business Science between January 7-10, 2013 and attracted researchers, educators, lobbyists, and business executives from all continents of the world.


The conference was guided by four themes:

1. Navigating Institutions: Business. Government and Civil Society

2. The Base of the Pyramid: Emerging Market Consumers, Workers, and Managers

3. Emerging Market Firm and MNCs: Characteristics and Global Aspirations and

4. Cultural Diversity and Transformational Societies


In addition to the themes, all conference delegates were scheduled to take part in Experiential Academic Learning Journeys. The fourth track/theme of the Learning Journey, facilitated by a professional historian tour guide and representatives from GIBS Centre for Leadership and Dialogue, was entitled: “A Country that No Longer Exists: Leading Institutions through the Wounds of History”. It drew on some of the fractured historic and freedom in struggles for South Africa and through the broad non-racial anti-apartheid movement. The purpose was to open the layers of South Africa’s diverse history.

Professors Brundin and Rosa led the workshop within the fourth theme, together with Brenda Watuli, Research Fellow, Makerere Univeristy Business School, Uganda (representing the MUBS family business team). Their workshop was entitled “Cultural Diversity and the African Family Business” . During the workshop, the Global STEP Project was presented, and from there followed introductory presentations about business research in Uganda, South Africa and Egypt. These built the basis for a discussion about confronting pre-conceptions of family businesses in Africa, such as the traditional and modern African family system, national regulations and institutions, and the concept of family business.

The audience then formed groups in order to discuss their take-aways within three concepts: Head (cognitive take-aways), Heart (emotional take-aways), and Hands (what actions come from here). The workshop ended with possible directions of a future research agenda of family firms in Africa.

Non-present co-organizers for this workshop were:

  • Professor Kobus Visser (University of the Western Cape, South Africa), leader of South African STEP team affiliated with JIBS).
  • Assoc. Prof. Shaida Cassim, (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa), researcher in the South African STEP team affiliated with JIBS
  • Dr. Omaima Hatem (University of Edinburgh Business School, researching fast growth internationalization amongst Egyptian family firms
  • Dr Patricia Joubert (Dean, Faculty of Commerce, University of Swaziland). Expertise: Gender legislation and its impact on Swaziland SMEs

Unfortunately, all the co-organizers above had to cancel due to illness and other unforeseen reasons.

During her stay in South Africa, Professor Brundin also finalized her research within the STEP Project, together with Professor Kobus Visser. Among others, interviews were made with previously disadvantaged groups who have started family firms within the wine industry and three cases for STEP were finalized.

In Johannesburg, as well as in Cape Town, Professor Brundin met up with alumni of JIBS and discussed their prosperous careers including Wesley Clarence, a Ph.D. candidate and team member of the South Africa STEP Project affiliated with JIBS.


About STEP:

Founded in 2005 by Babson College in collaboration with six academic affiliates in Europe, the STEP (Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices) Project is a global applied research initiative that explores the entrepreneurial process within business families and generates solutions that have immediate application for family leaders. The visionary institutions that founded the project include ESADE (Spain), HEC (France), Jönköping International Business School (Sweden), Universita Bocconi (Italy), Universitat St. Gallen (Switzerland), Universitat Witten/Herdecke (Germany), and ​Babson College (USA).


By Hilary Katulak,, 781-239-4623 | 02/20/2013 09:10