About The John L. Ward Center for Family Enterprises

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Established in 1999, the John L. Ward Center for Family Enterprises (CFE) pioneered much of what is known about the collective challenges family businesses and their leaders and owners face, making CFE synonymous with new ways of thinking about the ownership and leadership of family enterprises. Professor John Ward, along with founder Lloyd Shefsky and numerous faculty and staff aligned with CFE, developed CFE into a world-class teaching and research center that provides cutting-edge thinking and guidance for family business purpose, vision and strategy, governance, leadership, succession, entrepreneurship in family business, family engagement and cohesion and family business culture.

CFE has built a collaborative family business "community" among Kellogg students, faculty, alumni and family business scholars, and has developed a global network of successful business families who can learn from - and connect with - each other to generate innovative solutions to current and emerging challenges faced by family enterprises. CFE also creates unparalleled executive programs and conferences to drive strategic conversations about innovations and best practices in the field of family enterprise.

Renamed the John L. Ward Center for Family Enterprises in 2020, CFE today is in a unique position to transform the decision-making and strategic thinking of future generations of family enterprise leaders. CFE is dedicated to producing rigorous and relevant research into the unique demands, strengths and evolutionary paths of family enterprises. Results of this research are delivered in the classrooms to all ages of family business leaders.

In addition to our focus on the complexities of family enterprise leadership, governance and strategy, we integrate Northwestern University's and the Kellogg School of Management's authoritative expertise into our curriculum to create a world-class, comprehensive, cross-discipline family enterprise resource. Our fusion of this deep academic capability with knowledge gleaned from our global community of high-impact business-owning families helps create CFE's unique theory-driven, evidence-based frameworks.

CFE has a three-pronged approach:

  • Providing MBA curriculum and programming for students who are part of a family business, as well as students interested in the fields of private equity and venture capital;
  • Offering executive education courses such as "Leading Family Enterprises," "Governing Family Enterprises," and "Family Enterprise Boards: A Program for Current and Prospective Directors";
  • Conducting groundbreaking research to better understand the challenges facing business families.