Ongoing projects



Digitalisation in tourism - opportunities and challenges for Tyrolean family businesses

There is no alternative to digitalisation in SMEs. Nevertheless, the switch to digital processes, digital product innovations and digital business models continues to pose a major challenge for the majority of SMEs. In addition, the demands and needs of customers, guests and network partners are increasing, and for many companies, digitalisation is becoming more of a race to catch up than a competitive advantage. With the "Tourismus.Digital" project (project start: 1 Feb. 2024), the Family Business Centre aims to support Tyrolean family businesses in tourism in this process and to define important guidelines for the development and safeguarding of Tyrolean family businesses.

Project objective: To record and pool the wealth of knowledge and experience of Tyrolean family businesses in tourism in the context of digitalisation.

Project management: Family Business Centre at MCI | The Entrepreneurial School®
Partners: Alpenresort Schwarz; hollu Systemhygiene GmbH; Harry's Home Holding AG; Reisebüro Idealtours GmbH

The project is funded over a period of 36 months by the FFG and the state of Tyrol as part of the dissertation programme for Tyrolean universities 2023.




Succession intentions in family firms

The research project focusses on the vital and complex topic of takeover in family businesses. Specifically, the influence of personality and the values ​​of the next generation on the takeover intention are analyzed. The research project targets to create a rich synergy from different, established research areas. In this way, the connection between the research areas of family businesses and business psychology can be further promoted and essential findings for succession research in family businesses can be generated. The aim of the project is therefore to derive relevant implications for action for family entrepreneurs and potential successors in order to optimize the future career choices of potential successors and to ensure the continued existence of the family company in future generation.


Partners: Pepperdine University, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Take part in the survey:

QR Code Succession Intention Questionnaire.jpg


Can’t Family Businesses be Sustainable “Across” Generations?

This is a cross-cultural study between MCI in Austria and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in Japan to detect how sustainability approaches of family firms (FFs) between generations are reinvented and improved. Although most businesses worldwide are family businesses, many family firms also collapse after one or two generations. FFs face challenges to continue the legacy and culture of the family in order to keep growing and remain alive. From a sustainable development perspective, the potentials of FFs in triggering sustainability is expected to be crucial and starkly different in comparison to non-family firms. Scholars assume that FFs’ dominant attitude towards sustaining the business over generations and years influences their sustainability strategies. Nonetheless, scholarly research and monitoring on and interest in sustainability in FFs is still relatively recent and not yet sufficiently detected across generations. With the goal to develop a framework of the ‘Dynamics of sustainability of family firms across generations’, we will investigate two cases in depth to answer the question how family firms can be sustainable across generations and identify the prominent differences between pre- and now generations’ approach to sustainable strategies and practices in FFs.

Partner: Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), Japan



Employee satisfaction in Tyrol

The project is a Tyrol-wide study on employee retention at company and destination level (2022). The aim is to collect data about influencing factors for increasing the satisfaction and loyalty of employees in tourism to their company and their destination in Tyrol. The study analyzes the loyalty of employees to the place of work, which factors are influential and formulates recommendations for action for socio-economically sustainable destination and company development.

Funding authority: Tirol Werbung


Embodying Sustainability into Small and Medium Tourism Family Firm Strategies: An exploratory study

Despite the growing acknowledgment in the academic literature of SMEs as catalysts for sustainable development, there remains a gap in understanding the mechanisms by which SMEs effectively integrate sustainability into their business strategies and define sustainable business models. This lack of studies is particularly evident in the tourism sector. The tourism industry is one of the most crucial economic sectors in many countries worldwide and is vital for sustainability and given its intricate interplay between environmental preservation and sociocultural dynamics, it presents unique challenges and opportunities for SMTFs to integrate sustainability into their strategies. This study seeks to enhance understanding in this area by employing a multi-case approach, involving a sample of 20 SMTFBs (small and medium-sized tourism family businesses) in Austria and Italy. We conduct a cross-case analysis to uncover the main drivers shaping their sustainable business models to find exciting and enlightening answers to the following research question: How and why do SMTFBs include sustainability in their mission and strategies? This project is done in collaboration with Professor Michela Floris from the University of Cagliari in Italy.

Partner: University of Cagliari, Italy





Closed Projects



EICAA Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship Competences Assessment Alliance

EICAA aims to promote entrepreneurship and innovation skills. For this purpose, a survey to measure entrepreneurship and innovation skills is being created, the development of which is based on the internationally accepted EntreComp framework of the EU Commission. For each of the competencies, teaching modules for lecturers are being developed in the project. The survey of entrepreneurship and innovation skills is tested in advance and piloted on a large scale at universities and companies.

Project partners: Antwerp Management School, Univations, University Hohenheim, University of Szeged, TecnoCampus Mataro-Maresme

Funding authority: Erasmus +


Sustainable Leadership Development in Family Firms of the Tourism Industry

This work-in-progress aims to analyze and portray how sustainable leadership as a dynamic capability for sustainability is developed in the specific context of European family firms that operate in the tourism industry. Leadership dynamic capabilities are assumed to be an intangible asset that managers can develop over time through learning processes. For these reasons, understanding how such a dynamic capability is acquired and exploited regarding the organization’s triple bottom line is crucial for businesses if they are to embed sustainability into their operations. This research allows us to understand and explain the underlying process associated with knowledge creation and capture of value derived from the development of sustainable leadership as a dynamic capability. This project emerged between the collaboration of MCI and University of Valencia.

Partner: University of Valencia, Spain




ULYSSES Family Firm Case Study Competition

As part of the Ulysses "Family Firm Case Study Competition", students have the opportunity to be supported in developing entrepreneurial skills and to participate in a competition in a playful way. The competition is organized on a virtual platform so that multinational student groups can solve case studies from local family businesses. The project started on July 1, 2021 and is a cooperation between universities from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Austria.

Project partners: Free University Bozen, University Vienna, Univations, Fundus, University of Szeged

Funding authority: Erasmus +


Sustainable destination development through strategic employee retention - attractiveness and competitiveness of family-run Tyrolean hotels on the labor market

The aims of the present project, which is based on the project "Commitment and socio-economically sustainable destination development - The role of the destination for strategic employee retention using the example of the family-run Tyrolean hotel industry" funded by the Tourism Research Center (TFZ) of the State of Tyrol, are to survey the challenges of the Tirol Tourism for the qualitative and quantitative coverage of personnel requirements, the factors of the attractiveness and competitiveness of Tirol Tourism on the job market and the retention of employees in Tirol Tourism using the example of family-run hotels at selected destinations. The survey is carried out quantitatively, which means that the model developed in the previous project can be tested empirically

Project partners: MCI Tourism | Tiroler Tourism Research

Funding authority: Tourismusforschungszentrum (TFZ) des Landes Tirol

Socially accepted role models at the top of family businesses

The aim of the study is to illuminate the currently socially accepted role models at the top of family businesses, which influencing factors work and which challenges result from them. In family businesses, the two separate systems, family and business, are closely linked and in constant interaction. In this way, social change processes have a double impact and managers as well as potential successors are asked to adapt to the current change processes. Due to the increasing demand for equality between men and women as well as the demographic change, new challenges for family businesses are emerging.

In general, family businesses seem to better involve women in management positions resulting in the need for an appropriate division of work and family tasks for both, men and women. As the new requirments carry great uncertainties, current role models are missing. 

Funding authority: Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds

Commitment and socio-economically sustainable destination development - The role of the destination for strategic employee retention using the example of the family-run Tyrolean hotel industry

The aim of the project is to compile data about the loyalty of employees in tourism to their destination. The project deals primarily with the following central questions: How do employees of the family-run Tyrolean hotel industry assess their own commitment to their place of work, thus the tourist destination, and what can be derived from this for a socially- and economically-sustainable development of the destination and the company?

Funding authority: Tourismusforschungszentrum (TFZ)


Family Businesses and Personnel Strategies of the Future

The aim of the project is to find out conditions under which the communication of family involvement can have a positive or negative impact on the perceived attractiveness of Tyrolean family businesses. In addition, the influence of the potential applicants’ individual differences in this regard will be examined. A special focus is set on the so-called generations Y and Z (born from 1980). In addition to a structured literature analysis, within the project qualitative and quantitative data will be collected, evaluated and interpreted in order to answer the central questions. Finally, recommendations for practice will be derived and made available. In particular, small and medium-sized Tyrolean family businesses will gain valuable information for their future personnel strategies, especially with regard to communicating family influence in employer branding processes. This information can help Tyrolean family businesses to recruit talented and well-educated employees of generations Y and Z on the labor market of the future and thus be prepared for the increasing digitization.
Funding authority: Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds


Effects of external shocks on resilience in hospitality businesses

The new Corona Virus CoVID-19 poses great challenges for companies worldwide. The tourism industry is particularly affected by government restrictions. These restrictions force entrepreneurs to implement measures to ensure their resilience and remain able to act after the crisis. In Austria and Germany, the tourism industry is the main industry for which short-time work is considered a suitable measure by the employment agencies. The question now is whether it is the main measure that entrepreneurs choose for their company.

The current study aims at examining how the measure of short-time work, the self-perception of the entrepreneurs and their perception of the role of the employees affect the resilience of the companies. An important parameter for the investigation is the size of the company and the distinction between family businesses versus non-family businesses. Recommendations for action are derived and suitable measures are determined to determine how companies can remain resilient to external shocks such as pandemics or other crises.


Scandals in Family Businesses - How entrepreneurial families cope with scandales

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.

Funding authority: Equa Stiftung


Requirements for the risk management in small and medium sized family businesses in Tyrol

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.

Funding authority: Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds


Socio-economic sustainability of family businesses in the Tyrolean Tourism: A future model for the early generation Y in the main source market Germany?

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.

Funding authority: Tourismusforschungszentrum (TFZ)


Strategic positioning – Analysis of strategic options to strengthen the competitiveness of family businesses in tourism in the Tirol

The project aims to assess the status quo of strategic positioning of family-run businesses in Tirolean tourism, to analyze their problems, challenges and strategic options. Based on the challenges of family firms with regard to their stategic positioning, solutions and practical recommendations shall be developed and published in a guideline. This guideline shall help family firms to become sensitive towards strategic planning and provide them with hands-on measures and recommendations to achieve their strategic goals. Thus the overall aim is to contribute to the overall competitiveness of family-run tourism businesses.
Project partner: Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck, VTT (Verband der Tiroler Tourismusverbände)
Funding authority: Research Centre Tourism and Recreation

The factor employees in touristic family businesses - a Status Quo analysis of the employee-image using the example of hotel businesses and gastronomy in Tyrol

This project aims at determining the sectoral identity of entrepreneurs and employees working in the hotel business and gastronomy in tourism. In addition, employee-satisfaction and improvement activities are examined. Main question addressed is how stakeholder perceive the image of their sector. Therefore, the sector’s strengths and weaknesses are analysed from the viewpoint of entrepreneurs and employees as well as the leadership principles and satisfaction of the employees in terms of management, payment etc. Thus, the analysis clarifies how stakeholder perceive the sector and identifies the aspects needing actions. In connection with the results, practical implications for family businesses in tourism are proposed.
Project Partner: MCI Tourism Research
Funding authority: Research Centre Tourism and Recreation

Innovation behavior in family businesses

This quantitative study aims to investigate the innovation behavior of family businesses in Germany and Austria. Besides the main focus on innovation, different other areas such as strategic orientation, market orientation and organizational structure are of interest and should help to evaluate the innovation behavior in family businesses.
Project partner: Research Lab - sme.innovation.networks (MCI Management Center Innsbruck)
Project Partner: Wirtschaftskammer Tirol

Innovation behavior of SME family businesses in the context of business succession

Following a qualitative research strategy, we explore the innovation behavior of family-owned and family-managed carpentry companies in the context of succession. We focus on the question which measures can be taken in order to guarantee for the entrepreneurial innovativeness beyond the transfer and to establish a systematic innovation approach. Our main interest concentrates on the structural coupling of family and firm and their respective impact on the innovativeness in succession. The project aims at giving additional guidance for process-oriented consulting and support.
Funding authority: Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds

Digitalization and social media in family businesses

The purpose of this research is to explore the use and adoption of digital and social media in family businesses in Europe and East Asia, and to reveal differences and barriers in the usage of tools and technology in family-run firms. A systematic discussion of digital media in family firms shall raise awareness of the topic in the Tirolean economy and thus contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of Tirolean family firms.
Project partner: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Funding authority: Eurasia Pacific UniNet

Business succession in family firms in the Tirol

The project studies the business succession of family firms in the Tirol, including the challenges and problems family firms face during the succession process. Based on the study results, practical solutions and recommendations for family firms will be presented. The elaborated recommendations shall sensitize family firms regarding the needfulness to plan their succession and present measures to conduct family business succession.
Funding authority: Research Centre Tourism and Recreation

Status quo of family businesses in the Tirol

The project undertakes a status quo analysis of current challenges of family businesses in the Tirol across all industries. The following issues are treated with priority: key success factors of family businesses, succession planning, innovativeness, leadership, digitalization and social media.

Employer branding of family businesses

The project studies employer branding of family businesses. Students, who are the employees of tomorrow, are interviewed about the value propositions that make a business an attractive employer.

*Confidential data will be protected.

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