Haskayne researcher helps family firms flourish with data about good governance

Liena Kano, McCaig Family Future Fund Professor in International Family Business, will build scholarship around family business
Liena Kano
Liena Kano holds the newly established McCaig Family Future Fund Professorship in International Family Business Marnie Burkart, Jazhart Studios Inc.

From your mom and pop shop to large global companies – family firms span all levels of the economic landscape. They are also the most powerful driver of economic growth in Canada, being responsible for approximately 50 per cent of private sector GDP and providing almost half of private sector employment.

Research in the field of domestic and international family business has been active at the Haskayne School of Business for decades. Haskayne researchers have been building academic knowledge surrounding themes such as: how family firm owners balance long-term interests of the family and the business; the best practices for governing assets and human resources in family firms; and the unique determinants of family firms’ successes and failures in the global marketplace.

Building on this strength in family business research, is the newly established McCaig Family Future Fund Professorship in International Family Business to be held by Dr. Liena Kano, PhD.

“Family businesses represent some of the oldest organizational forms known to humans. Some family firms have been around for centuries, surviving wars, revolutions and natural disasters. Yet many, if not most, family firms around the world struggle to last through two generational transitions,” says Kano. “In my research, I try to get to the bottom of the paradox of family firm longevity. I am excited to dive into research questions drawn from the family business community in Alberta and beyond.”

Since receiving her PhD in 2013, Kano has published 18 articles in peer-reviewed journals and six book chapters focused on International Business and Family Business.

Researching good governance

The basic principles of good governance stand for both family and non-family firms, but family firms, unlike their non-family counterparts, are often driven by unique, family-centric considerations. These non-economic goals form the essence of what makes family firms different and give rise to both strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed through governance. Kano’s work explores how governance, both corporate and managerial, can provide the incentives, competencies, and resources to help family firms profitably balance family goals alongside long-term business needs.

“We really don’t know if family firms have better governance than companies with dispersed ownership, because most of the research on corporate governance has been on the 250 largest publicly traded companies in Canada,” says Jeffrey McCaig, chair, board of directors, Trimac Group of Companies. “With family firms being one of the largest economic drivers in Canada, there needs to be more research about governance in these companies. We are proud to be supporting this work at the Haskayne School and helping to develop scholarship around family firms.”

Jeff and Marilyn McCaig through the McCaig Family Foundation made a generous gift of $250,000 to establish the McCaig Family Future Fund Professorship in International Family Business. Their donation will be matched with funding from the Future Fund endowment to fuel this important research for the next five years. Haskayne currently has 14 named chairs and professorships, helping Haskayne to grow its research excellence.

Building resilience: lessons from family firms featuring Liena Kano and Jeffrey McCaig