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Highlights 2022

HR Circle kick-off event "The future of HR work"

The automation of administrative processes in the area of HR work forces those responsible to ask themselves: What will the future tasks of an efficient HR department look like? How can automation offer an opportunity for necessary streamlining in HR or facilitate specialisation in the areas of recruiting, performance management or employee retention in order to ensure the company's success, particularly on the labour market? Why can automation be a suitable means of addressing the question of purpose? Away from HR and towards the People & Culture Department? And what pitfalls lurk when employees regularly contact the HR department less personally and instead use their employee app?

The HR Circle kick-off event on this topic took place on 18 May 2022 at the invitation of Prof. Dr Christina Hoon. The keynote speech by Dr Maximilian Summer on the practical example of concrete planning for automated HR processes and by Jörg Rosenberger on the challenges of sustainable family businesses provided informative input for further discussion in round tables. Thanks to the trusting and science-oriented exchange, open questions and recommendations for action regarding current HR topics were discussed. Due to the positive feedback from participants, the next HR Circle is being planned for autumn 2022.

Workshop "Entrepreneurship without profit orientation? - Economic and legal considerations on so-called "steward-ownership"

The issue of steward-ownership has been the subject of public debate in recent months. The idea of a company with tied assets has found its way into the exploratory paper of the SPD, Alliance 90/The Greens and FDP. One of the reasons for this was the draft law for a special form of limited liability company, which was drawn up by an academic working group.

Following on from the current debates, on Tuesday, 26 October 2021, a group of professors and doctoral students met at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZIF) in Bielefeld for a workshop organised by Prof. Dr Anne Sanders under the title "Entrepreneurship without profit orientation? - Economic and legal considerations on so-called "steward-ownership".

Interdisciplinarity was to characterise the workshop. This is because so-called "steward-ownership" not only occupies the Law, but also raises potential for discussion in economics. The discussion of "steward-ownership" with regard to various economic models formed the first block of the event. In line with the workshop's objectives, the economic part ended with a lively discussion. This was followed by four legal contributions from doctoral students researching the current topic at various German universities. In addition to a legal-historical examination of the ownership of responsibility, the participants dealt with the concepts of human nature in corporate law. In addition, presentations on the much-discussed issue of asset retention and on constitutional issues, in particular with regard to the understanding of ownership in companies with steward-ownership, provided the basis for further exchange of opinions.

The interdisciplinary nature of the event is already evident in the composition of the panellists. Prof Dr Christina Hoon, Prof Dr Kai Bormann and Prof Dr Peter Limbach took on the economic block. The professors involved in the draft legislation, Dr Anne Sanders and Dr Simon Kempny, contributed their legal expertise to the discussion alongside other professors and doctoral students. In view of the positive response from the participants, especially the doctoral students, another workshop is planned for summer 2022.

by Tim Bühring, Shkelqim Berisha and Gina Rabea Rolfes

Handover of the baton: Change of Management Board functions

After six years as Chair of the iFUn, Professor Fred Becker has stepped down. The newly elected iFUn Chair is now Professor Dr Christina Hoon (see also reporting).

Highlights 2021

Entrepreneur of the Year OWL 2021: Laudation

Coverage of the award ceremony for Eudard Dörrenberg and Christoph Harras-Wolff and the laudatory speech

Real division at Dr. Oetker

WDRLokalzeit studio interview with Professor Becker on the effects of the real division at the Dr. Oekter Group (23.07.2021)

Sale of the company Tönnies?

Interview with Professor Becker on the rumour "Tönnies is being sold" on WDR3-Lokalzeit (19.03.2021)

Reporting on the change of function on the iFUn Executive Board

Two press organisations report on the handover:

Highlights 2020

Deutsche Bank is a donor!

The "Institute for Family Businesses" (iFUn) and the "Leadership of Family Businesses" chair have another main donor. Deutsche Bank AG in East Westphalia has been supporting research and teaching for five years since October.

Bielefeld University has been focussing on the special features of family businesses in research and teaching since 2014. Central to this is the "Institute for Family Businesses" (iFUn for short) founded in 2014 and the endowed chair "Management of Family Businesses" (holder: Professor Dr Christina Hoon), which was established in 2015. The foundation, which is set to run for a total of ten years (just under 3.5 million euros), is financed by many East Westphalian companies and institutions. The main donors are: Beckhoff Automation, Goldbeck Stiftung, Hettich Holding, HorstmannGroup, IHK Ostwestfalen zu Bielefeld, Nobilia-Werke J. Stickling, Kannegießer, Melitta Bentz, Stiftung Familienunternehmen, Stiftung der Sparkasse Bielefeld, Schüco International, HLB Dr Stückmann & Partner as well as the Universitätsgesellschaft Bielefeld (with many sub-founders from the region).

Deutsche Bank has now joined as the main donor and will contribute to the iFUn's work financially and in other ways until 2025.

Professor Dr Fred Becker, Chairman of the iFUn: "We are delighted that such a renowned bank is committed to promoting research and teaching in the field of family businesses in this way." The Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Professor Dr Hermann Jahnke, adds: "This is a strong signal of confidence in the work of the iFUn to date."

Martin Wilde, Member of the Management Board of Deutsche Bank Bielefeld: "Deutsche Bank feels a close connection to the SME sector, especially in East Westphalia with its many successfully managed family businesses, we maintain an intensive and trusting dialogue. We appreciate the great work of the institute and its endowed chair and are very pleased to be able to support the intensive and diverse cooperation between research, teaching and practice and thus make a contribution to the further development of the region together with other committed sponsors."

The economic region of East Westphalia-Lippe is characterised by many well-known and even more unknown family businesses. They employ a large number of employees and, increasingly, university graduates from the region. The employment relationships are surprisingly long, accompanied by low fluctuation and absenteeism rates on average. "In some areas, running these family businesses is subject to different laws and customs than those of corporations. This is often the secret of their success, but also partly their problem," says Professor Dr Christina Hoon, holder of the Chair of Family Business Management. She adds: "We are keen to research such special features and to communicate them to our students at an early stage in their studies. The Deutsche Bank Foundation helps us to intensify this."

Photo: Norma Langohr (from right: Prof'in Hoon, Marin Wilde, Prof Becker)

Press coverage here.

Prof. Dr Anne Sanders on steward-ownership in the FAZ - journal

Under the title "The great strengths of steward-ownership", Prof'in Sanders (with three colleagues) once again had the opportunity to make a prominent case for their idea of steward-ownership in the FAZ of 29 November 2020 (online:

Dr Andreas Hettich joins the iFUn

Dr Andreas Hettich, Chairman of the Advisory Board and main shareholder of the Hettich Group, will be involved from the 2020/21 winter semester both as a Temporary Lecturer and as a researcher on issues relating to the management of family businesses.

"As a co-founder and member of the iFUn Advisory Board, Dr Andreas Hettich has been a great pillar of our work since the very beginning. For around twenty years, he has always actively supported our Faculty's successful efforts to get closer to family businesses in East Westphalia-Lippe. With his many years of experience as a shareholder, managing director and advisory board member, he will become a pillar of our work," says Professor Dr Fred G. Becker, Chairman of the iFUn. "With Mr Hettich, we are gaining a family entrepreneur whose business practice and academic interests make him an ideal addition to our iFUn team," adds Professor Dr Christina Hoon from the endowed chair "Management of Family Businesses".

Dr Andreas Hettich will start as a Temporary Lecturer in November with a practical tutorial (in connection with lecture/seminar) on the internationalisation of family businesses. Using a specific case from Hettich, the students will work intensively under his guidance on the selection of a market, the subsequent market entry strategy and the factors that a family business pays particular attention to. Hettich: "I'm looking forward to working closely with the students and am also very excited to see what ideas they will bring to our existing approaches."

Dr Andreas Hettich has also already embarked on research with a scientific paper on the crisis resilience of family businesses. He is particularly focussing on the potential liquidity dilemma and its central concomitant phenomena (equity capitalisation, amount, stratification and availability of a crisis pot as well as ownership structure). Further projects, mostly in collaboration with Professor Hoon, are already planned: Strategies for crisis resilience of family businesses and StartUps and family businesses.


The press coverage can be found under this link.

OWL Management Colloquium 2020

Bielefeld University

The 9th colloquium "Trust in (family) businesses" planned for autumn 2020 was cancelled. Various consultants (Jens Beining, Michael Heicks, Dr Andreas Hettich and Dr Dr h. c. Jörg Mittelsten Scheid) wanted to address the levels of trust and their importance for corporate success. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the usual format could not be implemented. A new event is currently planned for autumn 2021.

Corona pandemic: Interviews with Jürgen Eggers and Dr Max Summerer

As part of the master's course "HR management in and before the crisis", which was realised at short notice due to the pandemic, the HR managers of both the Goldbeck and Horstmann groups were interviewed. This was done via a video clip.

Workshop "Shareholder competence"

- cancelled due to the corona pandemic -

On 27 and 28 March 2020 and on 24 and 25 April 2020, workshops will be held under the title "Shareholder competence" and in cooperation with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce to support and develop you in your role as a shareholder.


In the past, it was often said in family businesses: from father to son. That was the "old world". Today, many family businesses no longer have just one shareholder, but many. But not all of them are operationally active: many concentrate on their role as owners. The challenges of the "new world" demand expertise and professionalism from all shareholders. A healthy family business not only has a capable management team. Its foundation is formed by a stable business family and competent shareholders. Only shareholders who are able to assess the legal, tax and economic circumstances of the company will be able to fulfil their role as co-owners in the best interests of the company and their family.

Our invitation is aimed at shareholders who wish to fulfil their important role in the family business competently. We offer you a young, experienced team of speakers who will combine their practical experience with theory and enrich it with experience reports. You are cordially invited to develop your role in the family business together with us and other shareholders in a protected environment.

Prof Dr Christina Hoon, Prof Dr Anne Sanders, Dr Sebastian von Thunen and Ute Horstkötter-Starke

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