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Keynote in Italy, Collaborations in Sweden for Danes

danes.jpgThe toll of crossing multiple time zones between Europe and the United States can wear down even the most seasoned traveler, but just one week after returning home from delivering a keynote address in Italy, Dr. Sharon Danes boarded another plane and flew back to the continent to collaborate with fellow chapter authors in Sweden.

Danes delivered a keynote address at the annual conference for the International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA), held at the University of Palermo in Sicily, Italy, from June 28 through July 1, 2011. The keynote was entitled "Family Constructs in Family Business Research: Present and Future."

"There are very few family scientists who research family businesses," said Danes. IFERA is attended mostly by people from business schools, and Danes said that her being asked to keynote meant her work "has reached the next level of global recognition."

Danes' spoke about her research concentration at the intersection of family and business. When there is a time of high demand in a family-run business, who helps out and how are responsibility lines changed, blurred, or split between family responsibilities and business responsibilities? How is the flow of money from family savings to business expenses affected? "When families and business intersect, you need to look at family communication patterns as well as business management processes," she said.

Danes also discussed her Sustainable Family Business Theory, which can be summarized as: family-run businesses are not successful unless the family has healthy family functionality as well as a financially healthy business. Danes noted that this does not mean there is an absence of tension in families, but that high tension families are able to address the tension in a healthy way.

"My time at the IFERA conference was wonderful," she said. "I renewed and built on previous relationships, as well as made new ones, and discussed partnerships with fellow scholars from Finland, a French professor teaching in Canada, and a consultant from Malaysia."

Since most of her previous work outside the U.S. has been centered in Central and South America, Danes was excited to spend additional time in Europe. Through the Road Scholar educational program, she traveled with her husband to Rome, Florence, and Venice. The program provided lectures on history and culture before going to museums and famous sites, making the excursion experience richer.

After returning to Minnesota for six days, Danes returned to Europe on July 9, this time to Sweden. Danes is the author of a chapter in the upcoming SAGE Handbook of Family Business.

"The book editors, funded by a Swedish family business, brought all of the chapter authors together to ensure continuity in the chapters," said Danes. "It was a good way to work on content and get structural feedback beyond just the authors."

Danes' chapter features many of the same concepts from her IFERA keynote. The book features chapters by authors from across the globe, and will be published in 2012.

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