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Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

Leading Families, Sustaining Enterprises

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Family enterprises represent nearly 90 percent of all businesses in Latin America. The management of these companies go through difficult times when mixing two fundamental elements: love and money. Therefore, it’s important to anticipate conflict and evaluate alternative mechanisms that allow for family harmony and business continuity in the long term.

This program is based on the experience and trajectory of two world-class institutions: Cornell University, through Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and INCAE Business School. The union of these two business schools allows students to learn first-hand from professors and practitioners who are very well acquainted with both Latin America and the rest of the world.

This event provides us with the opportunity to share with many business families, from different countries of the region, and thus complements the learning with the experiences of the participants.

I invite you to join us in this program and, please, do not come alone. With experiences like this, it is important that several members of the family participate, in order to return to the day-to-day speaking the same language of success.


  • Understand family businesses: their challenges and opportunities
  • Understand the options available to promote entrepreneurship in the family business
  • Discuss alternative approaches to corporate governance in the family business
  • Develop the fundamental tools for the Family Protocol


Based on the lessons learned from the successful application in countless Latin American companies, our instructors will present global best practices to guarantee the competitiveness of family businesses, and, above all, show participants how to apply them according to their reality and within a local scenario.

Conference Agenda

Day 1 Introduction to family businesses. Opportunities and challenges of the family business.

  • Family businesses, effective leadership, communications, definition and clarity of roles
  • Anticipating the conflict in the family business
  • Understanding the structures of the family business
  • Change management, family protocol

Day 2 Succession, governance and entrepreneurship in the family business. Preparing the next generation and succession planning.

  • Tools for governance, boards of directors (peers, consul- tants, directors, temporary and permanent), and corporate structure
  • Understanding entrepreneurship and growth in the family business
  • How can we develop an entrepreneurial spirit among family members

Day 3 Governance and boards of directors.

  • Effectiveness of the board of directors, continuity plan, and developing trust
  • Scenarios for the boards of directors
  • How it is that governance can be a source of competitive advantage?
  • Cultural differences and global competences
  • Simulations of the board of directors

Day 4 Writing the Family Protocol and the next steps.

  • Content on the Family Protocol
  • Individual support from the faculty to all the participants and/or family groups in attendance
  • Synthesis, conclusions and next steps
  • Questions/Answers

Who should attend

  • Owners and members of family businesses
  • Members of different families that share ownership of the same company or business group
  • Senior managers of family businesses
  • Executives of the family business
  • Professionals and consultants who, due to their activity, must relate to this type of company
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Esteban Brenes, from Costa Rica, specializes in strategy and entrepreneurship. He has lectured at the business schools of universities like Michigan, Chicago and Duke. He’s a visiting professor at Cotrugli Business School in Croatia. He has taught in tailor-made programs for Carlsberg, Coca Cola,...