As the world's foremost institution of its kind, the Family Enterprise Center (FEC) at Kennesaw State University is dedicated to spearheading educational initiatives and fostering a vibrant community for the family business ecosystem. We curate an array of educational and networking initiatives tailored to nurture the collective interests of this distinctive community. Moreover, we are committed to pioneering impactful research aimed at tackling the real-world challenges faced by family enterprises.

the family enterprise center building

Family Enterprise Center History

In 1987 the Family Enterprise Center (FEC) was founded by Dr. Craig Aronoff within the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University.  Dr. Aronoff saw the need and value for family business owners to help each other by meeting and sharing their experiences. This first of its kind peer group evolved into the Family Business Forum.  Dr. Aronoff also instituted the Georgia Family Business of the Year awards (1992-2020), which celebrated family businesses throughout Georgia for accomplishments and contributions to business and community.  The founding principles instituted by Aronoff concentrated on providing services to family businesses, focusing on multigenerational involvement, and addressing unique challenges while building relationships and community.

Continuing the programs initiated by Dr. Aronoff, the FEC’s second generation leader, Dr. Joseph H. Astrachan grew the Center into a premier leader on the global stage.  Efforts in the research and educational Family Business spheres became go-to sources for information and curriculum.  As editor of the Family Business Review for decades, executive editor of the Family Business Casebook annual and co-editor of the Journal of Family Business Strategy, Dr. Astrachan ensured results from Family Business research efforts were made available to Family Business leaders and academics.

Dr. Astrachan also assembled an exceptional team of family business faculty and leading consultants who together developed a targeted Executive MBA curriculum for Family Enterprise Leaders and family members. This first of its kind MBA welcomed global students from North and South America, Europe and Asia.

The success of the Center continued under the guidance of Dr. Gaia Marchisio, who led the FEC with recognized research and application.  Dr. Marchisio recognized the desire of professional advisors to have a better understanding of the family business ecosystem so that a higher quality of service could be provided for their unique clients.  Dr. Marchisio created a specialized workshop for those advisors, offering new perspectives into family business, as well as regular advisor networking socials featuring speakers on topical issues.

Dr. Marchisio also created a means for individual families to work together on whatever challenges their business and families faced by creating teams of experts.  Additionally, Dr. Marchisio crafted a nine-month online program for the next generation of family business leaders to educate them before they took the reins.

Dr. Mark Hiatt continued programs set up by those preceding him, keeping the FEC running to fulfill its mission to assist family businesses through educational programming and research.  Dr. Hiatt was instrumental in launching a program for local entrepreneurs in partnership with a local non-profit.

Now under the direction of Dr. Sara Davis and Dr. Robert Randolph, the FEC continues to advance its original founding principles by offering educational programming, networking events and services tailored to the local community, all while championing key research.  Dr. Davis is dedicated to community engagement and serves on several local committees as a mentor and family business expert.

Dr. Randolph spearheads the research arm of the FEC and continues to collect data and conduct timely and relevant research.  Studying the intricacies of this unique environment allows the FEC to tailor its programming and educational components to better support family businesses.

With its long-standing history and strong leadership, the FEC continues to support, educate, and impact the family businesses ecosystem to help ensure success in future generations.