In his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis declared 2021 the Year of St. Joseph. In doing so, he sought “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal”. 2021 also marks the 40th anniversary of two of Pope St. John Paul II’s most influential encyclicals on work and the family: Laborem exercens (Sept. 1981) & Familiaris consortio (Nov. 1981).
In response to Pope Francis's call, and the challenge of St. John Paul II to continually study “new meanings of human work" and to remember that the “future of humanity passes by way of the family”, the Busch School of Business’s Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship launched a bold new Family Business Initiative. This initiative serves as our tribute to St. Joseph, Patron of fathers and workers, in two ways.
First, we created a degree track to teach the next generation of family entrepreneurs (as many as a third of our students come from family businesses) to grow their businesses in a way that creates a positive impact for their families, communities and society.
Second, we have organized the Family Business Consortium, a meeting place for family businesses that share our conviction that family is “the first and vital cell” of social life - the fundamental unit of society, both socially and economically. The consortium provides family businesses with opportunities to come together, network, learn and grow.
Our family-centric perspective is unique. While secular economists often look at family ownership as "second-best", we understand that family businesses have been an important institution in the development of modern market economies. Most craft production that took place in Europe and in the U.S. until the Industrial Revolution was family-based. At the end of the 19th century, as managerial private companies slowly replaced many family businesses, many thought that family firms would eventually disappear. They did not. They continue to form the bedrock of the American economy, contributing by some estimates as much as two-thirds of total gross domestic product and three-quarters of all new jobs created in the United States.
Family businesses are effective, efficient and competitive - but more importantly, they are human. As the “first and irreplaceable school of social life", families are inherently “marked by respect, justice, dialogue and love”. They are the natural precursor for the strong cultures, values and trust that are pivotal to business success, yet private non-family firms often struggle to achieve. Indeed, well-run family businesses are often known for high-levels of employee and client satisfaction, low turnover rates, and great attention to human needs. In the language of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, they are the perfect seedbed for human flourishing.
What unites the Family Business Consortium is our mutual dedication to our families, our businesses, our communities, and a flourishing society. We hope you will consider joining us today.