Current topics

Ulysses Digital Student Competition | Kick-off event

Tuesday, April 11th, the hot phase of the Ulysses - Family Firm Case Study Competition has officially begun! Representatives of the project partners and the family firms participated in a virtual kick-off event with over 60 students from all over the world. In total, 93 students from 25 different countries registered and were divided into 23 teams. During the kick-off event, the first three case studies on family businesses were finally presented and assigned to the eagerly waiting student groups.


International Family Business Research Day 2023

The International Family Business Research Day was a cooperation between MCI | The Entrepreneurial School and ESCA School of Management. The virtual event was dedicated to current topics in the field of family business research. Anita Zehrer moderated the track Strategy and Management. In addition, Katharina Beckert presented her master thesis "Boundary work and role identities in family firms". Gundula Glowka gave insights into her dissertation "Risk management in family firms" and Desiree Wieser spoke about the topic "Inclusive and sustainable leadership in family firms".



Ulysses | Partnermeeting in Halle (Saale)

The third meeting of the partners of the Ulysses - Digital Student Competition took place in Halle (Saale) in mid-February 2023. The focus of this 2-day meeting of the six international partners was on the preparation, implementation and follow-up of the competition. The different partners discussed the final details of the implementation of the competition as well as sustainability strategies.

Registration for the competition is open until March 21.

More information about Ulysses is available on the official Ulysses website.



Ulysses Contest - Registration is now open

Together with a project team consisting of Austria, Hungary and Italy, the Family Business Center organizes the first digital competition in which students from all over Europe solve practical problems of local family businesses. Taking part in the competition is worthwhile for both sides: Students have the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge from the university. The family businesses benefit from the proposed solutions and can make contact with future graduates and promising specialists.

The Registration is now open!!

The registration process has now started. February 01, 2023 marks the start of the registration process for the student competition. Students can register for the competition from this day on and thus have the chance to support family businesses in solving case-specific problems. Registration is possible alone or in pairs. After the registration, international teams of four will be formed.

The case competition consists of two rounds. In the first round, from April 11-25, 2023, teams will randomly receive a case study on a family business’ real life problem to create a possible solution based on case specific questions. Result should be a written solution with 5-6 pages and a short video presentation. In the second round, from May 2-23, 2023, the winning teams of the first round will move further to the second round. In this round, all teams work on the same case.

More information

More information about Ulysses, the contest as well as important dates and deadlines can be found on the official Ulysses Website.


Ulysses Contest - European Case Competition for Students on Family Firms

The Family Business Center organizes the first digital competition in which students from all over Europe solve practical problems of local family businesses. Participation is worthwhile for both sides: Students have the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge from the university. The family businesses benefit from the proposed solutions and can make contact with future graduates and promising specialists.


The Ulysses Contest is organized by an association of 6 institutions from Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary. Preparations for the competition are already in full swing. The first family businesses, including companies in the tourism sector, wineries and wood processing companies, have already confirmed their participation. In Innsbruck, the Family Business Center is currently reaching out to family businesses to identify challenges that could serve as a basis for digital competition. Once the members of the family businesses have been interviewed, so-called case studies are created based on their real-world problems. These must be solved by the participants during the Ulysses Contest.


Registration is possible for individual students as well as for groups. The competition itself is scheduled to start in February 2023 with the registration phase. The winning team will be announced and awarded at the end of May 2023. The competition deals with topics that continue to pose a challenge in business practice. The Ulysses Contest is an effective link for the transfer of university knowledge into practice, from which local companies derive real added value. At the same time, the entrepreneurial, digital and intercultural skills of the students are trained through practical application, which benefits their professional careers.



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Welcome Martina Harc

The ZFU is pleased about the two-month guest stay of Martina Harc, Ph.D. Martina Harc works as Senior Research Associate at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, The Institute for Scientific and Artistic Work (Osijek, Croatia). As part of the JESH - CROATIA grant, she received funding for a research stay at the ZFU. Together with her, the ZFU team is working on the project of succession intentions.



Anita Zehrer
Prof. MMag. Dr. habil. Anita Zehrer Head of Family Business Center +43 512 2070 - 7100


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Current topics - 2022

9th Responsible Management Education Research Conference

This year the 9th Responsible Management Education Research Conference was held at the MCI. The conference took place from September 27th to 29th. The event focused on the social impact of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Anita Zehrer and Desiree Wieser from ZFU moderated the track "The Next Generation of Family Firms - Responsible Leadership Education in Family Business" together with Martina Harc (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, The Institute for Scientific and Artistic work in Osijek, Croatia). As part of the track, the papers "Career Transitions for Next Generation Family Business Leaders: Developmental Experiences Across the Lifespan" and "Succession intention in the context of family business" by Kevin Groves (Pepperdine University, USA), Martina Harc as well as Valerie Nickel and Anita Zehrer from ZFU were discussed. In addition, Valerie Nickel from the ZFU presented the project "Succession intention: The influence of the next generation's personality traits and values".


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ESCA Conference Casablanca

Anita Zehrer from the ZFU took part in the International Conference On Family Businesses: A Focus On The Arab World organized by the ESCA Ecole de Management Casablanca (Morocco) and co-hosted by the American University in Cairo for the first time this year. She contributed to the lively intercultural discourse with her presentation of the research project "Longevity of Centenarian Family Firms".



IFERA 2022 | The Gears of Legacies

The theme of the IFERA Conference 2022 was "The Gears of Legacies - Next Generations Driving Family Business Renewal and Endurance". Valerie Nickel and Anita Zehrer were represented by the ZFU. Valerie Nickel presented her project "Socially accepted Roles of Family Business Leaders" within the Doctoral Consortium, which was nominated for the Best Paper Award and also presented the research project "Impact of Personality Traits on Succession Intentions in Family Firms". Anita Zehrer chaired the session "Emotions and Values in Family Firms".



Erasmus+ Teaching Week | University of Valencia

Anita Zehrer and Gundula Glowka took part in the 31st ACEDE conference in Barcelona this year. The conference is organized by the Spanish Academy of Management. Gundula Glowka and Anita Zehrer presented the research projects "Risk Management in SMFEs" and "Drivers and Barriers of Sustainable Innovation in Small Family Firms".



Erasmus+ Teaching Week | University of Valencia

Anita Zehrer taught at the University of Valencia as part of the Erasmus+ Teaching Week. The one-week course was dedicated to the topic of entrepreneurship in family firms.


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EICAA | Partnermeeting

The first personal partner meeting of the Earsmus+ project EICAA - Entrepreneurial and Intrapreneurial Competences Assessment Alliance took place at the beginning of March. Anita Zehrer and Desiree Wieser represented the ZFU in Antwerp and were able to exchange information with the partners about the status quo and the upcoming steps.


ULYSSES | Partnermeeting

The first meeting of the Ulysses - student case competition partners took place in Innsbruck at the MCI in mid-February. The focus of this two-day meeting of the six international partners was on the coordination and finalization of the procedure and the rules of the competition. The various partners presented first developed case studies and problems of family businesses. Strategies for implementing the project plans were discussed.

Further information follow!


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Ulysses | Newsletter

All upcoming information on the digital ULYSSES Student Case Committee will be published in the ULYSSES newsletter. The ULYSSES Student Case Competition gives students the opportunity to transfer theoretical knowledge into practice and to work in a team to create a solution proposal for a current problem in a family business.

Further information follow!


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Current topics - 2021

5 years anniversary | Family Business Center

We are looking forward to celebrating our own anniversary this year because the Family Business Center turns 5 years old.


In this context, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past few years!


The following graphic gives an insight into our performance over the past 5 years.


5 Jahre Facts Figures ZFU EN

Current topics - 2020


The research project was dedicated to the question: "How do entrepreneurial families deal with scandals?. In this context, the study showed the challenges, problems and consequences of a (public) scandal in family businesses. 

The aim of the study was to identify different handling types and patterns and then to evaluate the. The focus was on internal and external communication during and after the crisis or scandal.

The project was carried out with the support of the Equa Stiftung.


This research project examined the risk situation and risk awareness of family businesses in Tirol. The motivation for this project was that a lack of risk awareness can lead to a neglect of risk management, which in the medium term endangers the health of the companies.

With the help of a mixed-methods research process, the requirements for risk management in small and medium-sized family businesses were determined.

The project was financed by the Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds.


The research project analyzed the values ​​and needs of the "early Generation Y" from Germany in relation to family-run hotel operations in order to derive long-term product and offer development. The focus was on determining which values ​influence ​the “early Generation Y” segment in travel decisions, which tourist offers it values ​​and which opportunities and risks family-run tourist businesses will have in this segment in the future.

The results show that Generation Y is a potential target group for tourist family hotels in Tyrol. The special features of a family business can also be used to further develop the offer.

The project was carried out in cooperation with the Tourismusforschungszentrum (TFZ) des Landes Tirol  of the State of Tirol. More detailed information about the project can be found here.


Due to the current legal provisions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and after evaluating the situation in Tyrol and in the DACH region, it is unfortunately not possible to hold the Family Business Future Summit DACH forum on April 22, 2020 in Innsbruck.

The event will be moved to spring 2021.

The new date will be announced soon.

We are sorry and kindly ask for your understanding.

Credits: MCI-Marketing

10th Conference of German-speaking Research Centers and Institutes for Family Businesses

This year the 10th conference of German-speaking research centers and institutes for family businesses took place at the WIFU - Witten Institute for Family Business from 02. to 03.03.2020. Anita Zehrer from the ZFU presented on the topic of values ​​and how entrepreneurial families deal with scandals. Gundula Glowka from the ZFU presented the research project Risk Management in Family Businesses.

Credits: MCI-ZFU

Current topics - 2019

upperfuture day 2019

The upperfuture day took place on November 21, 2019 as a premiere of the new innovation day for tourism in the Upper Austria. The focus was on the people in the area of tourism and their perspectives in a time of societal and digital change. Anita Zehrer held a workshop on the topic of "Alternation of Generations in Family Businesses".

Credits: Tourismus Oberösterreich

G-Forum 2019

An exciting, scientific exchange took place in the framework of the G-Forum, which was held this year at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, on the subject of entrepreneurship, innovation and SMEs. The ZFU was represented by Anita Zehrer and Gundula Glowka, who contributed to the strategic positioning of family businesses and their ability to innovate.

Credits: MCI-ZFU

IFERA 2019

This year the IFERA Conference was hosted by the University of Bergamo, Italy, under the title "Feeding the fire of entrepreneurship: Theory and practice for the enterprising family". Anita Zehrer presented the Case Study "The Peak Hotel - The Challenge of Succession and Family Firm Continuity" for which she was nominated for the Best Paper Award.

Credits: MCI-ZFU

EIASM 2019

The 15th EIASM Workshop on Family Firm Management Research was organized in the End of May in Nantes, France. This year the focus was on Family Entrepreneurship and Society.

Anita Zehrer and Gundula Glowka from the ZFU presented the paper "CSR of family firms in tourism - the interaction behaviour between family firms and destination management organizations".

Credits: MCI-ZFU


The ISCONTOUR 2019, International Student Conference in Tourism Research, was hosted by the MCI Innsbruck in cooperation with the IMC FH Krems in the Middle of May. As a part of the event, Anita Zehrer of the Family Business Center talked about the topic "Family Firm - Backbone of the Tourism Economy". Full program is available here.

Credits: MCI-Marketing

Award | Tourissimus

The Family Business Center congratulates Annika Stärk winning with her Master Thesis "Familiness und Führungskompetenzen" the Tourissimus 2019 in the category tourist industry.

Credits: MCI-Marketing

Praktikerforum Tischler 2025

The Family Business Center organized in cooperation with Innovation.SME.Lab and Wirtschaftskammer Tirol the Praktikerforum Tischer 2025 in the beginning of April. As part of the event, the project Tischler 2025 was presented. Aim of the study was to identify challenges and influences for the cabinetmaker’s trade in Tirol in order to reveal strategies for exhausting future potentials.

Credits: MCI-Marketing

Family Business Forum 2019

The Family Business Center hosted for the fourth time the Family Business Forum. The students had the opportunity not only to gain theoretical knowledge but alsoto discuss with selected family business entrepreneurs.

The following family entrepreneurs participated in the forum: Claudia Berghofer (Adler Lacke), Andreas Duschl (Duschl Ingenieure), Elisabeth Hauser (Hotel Stanglwirt), Andreas Kapferer (Deloitte), Felicitas Kohler (Planlicht), Mario Morandell (Morandell), Susanne Neuhauser (Idealtours GmbH), Manfred Pletzer (Pletzer Gruppe), Martha Schultz (Schultz Gruppe), Wolfgang Sief (SIKO GmbH) and Andrea Speckbacher (Eurogast).

Credits: MCI-Marketing

CAUTHE Conference 2019

In the middle of February the 29th CAUTHE Conference was hosted in Cairns, Queensland.

This year, the conference’s topics focussed on "Sustainability of Tourism, Hospitality and Events in a Disruptive Digital Age".
With regard to the sustainable persistence of tourism businesses in Tirol, the ZFU presented the paper "Risk identification and risk perception of family tourism businesses in the Tirol", which analyses the risk perception of family businesses in tourism.

Credits: MCI-ZFU

Tiroler Wissenschaftsförderung

The Family Business Center is pleased that the Tiroler Wissenschaftsförderung supports two projects this year. The projects promoted are from Teresa Spiess dealing with Personnel Strategies and from Gundula Glowka analysing Risk-Management. The presentation took place on Friday, January 18th, 2019.

Credits: MCI-ZFU

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