Highlights from International Family Business Research Forum 2023

Highlights from the International Family Business Research Forum 2023

Prof Maura McAdam recently attended the 6th International Family Business Research Forum 2023 (IFBRF2023) in Dubai. This three day event, which took place for the first time in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), brought together a number of stakeholders including family business leaders, academics, students and policy makers.

During the three days attendees were presented with discussion panels, keynote sessions and academic paper presentations.  

Day 1: Next Generation Family Business Leaders Day was designed for family businesses, with a special focus on the next generation of family business owners.

Day 2: Academics and Scholars Day provided scholars with the necessary tools and knowledge to advance the frontiers of family business research, contributing to the continuous evolution and development of the field. A particular highlight of the day was the enlightening keynote delivered by Mishal Kanoo of The Kanoo Group who shared his nuggets of wisdom with the academics, including "Passion in business? Absolutely essential. But let emotions stay out of the boardroom!"

Day 3: Policymakers & Stakeholders Day was dedicated to entrepreneurial and family business ecosystems and provided a platform for meaningful discussions and knowledge exchange, enabling participants to gain valuable insights into the current trends, challenges, and opportunities within the family business and entrepreneurial ecosystem within the GCC Region. 

Highlights and observations from the conference:

  • Succession Planning Challenges: The next-generation leaders shared their experiences and struggles in navigating the complexities of succession planning within their family businesses, including issues related to leadership transition, family dynamics, and maintaining the legacy of the business.
  • Balancing Family Dynamics and Business Responsibilities: The next-generation leaders discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between family relationships and business responsibilities, highlighting the challenges and strategies for effective communication and conflict resolution within the family.
  • Innovation and Adaptation: The next-generation leaders talked about their endeavours to drive innovation and implement modern business practices within traditional family enterprises, highlighting the importance of adapting to changing market dynamics and technological advancements.
  • Networking with Leading Scholars and Practitioners: A valuable opportunity to connect with renowned family business scholars enabling participants to build relationships and seek mentorship within the field.
  • Showcasing and Receiving Feedback on Research: Scholars had the opportunity to present and showcase their research work, receiving insightful feedback and guidance from established scholars, thereby enhancing the quality and impact of their research.
  • Stimulating Discussions and Idea Exchange: Engaging in stimulating discussions and idea exchanges with peers, fostering a collaborative environment that encourages the development of innovative research ideas and approaches within the family business domain.
  • Family Business Dominance: Family businesses play a significant role in the economies of many GCC countries, contributing substantially to the region's GDP and employment. As a result, building a robust ecosystem for family businesses in the UAE is pivotal.
  • Technology and Innovation Adoption: The UAE region has witnessed a rapid adoption of technology and a growing focus on fostering innovation in various sectors. This shift has encouraged entrepreneurship, particularly in fields such as fintech, e-commerce, and renewable energy, driving the development of a vibrant start-up ecosystem in the region. Within the family business context, this poses an opportunity to blend fresh ideas with time-tested wisdom.
  • Youth Involvement and Education: There has been an increasing emphasis on engaging the youth in entrepreneurship and business development through educational programs, incubators, and accelerators. This has led to the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs and family business leaders eager to drive innovation and growth in the region. 

The personal stories shared at the event provided practical insights and lessons that inspired the audience and resonated with other next-generation leaders, offering a realistic understanding of the complexities and rewards associated with managing and leading a family business. 

Maura was impressed by the IFBRF 2023's philosophy of research with real impact for family firms - and the forum created between the world of family business scholars and family business owners, all set against the dynamic backdrop of Dubai. 

Overall, the 6th International Family Business Research Forum created a conducive environment for collaboration, networking, and knowledge exchange; empowering aspiring scholars to make significant contributions to the future of family business research and its impact on the broader business landscape.