We have arrived in Austria. It is a country that is rich in culture and tradition. Of course we are excited about all of the stereotypical Austrian delights: skiing, the opera, the birthplace of Mozart and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and of course, the food! Yes, our professor has not stopped talking about the legendary Sacher Torte, a pastry created at the renown Sacher Hotel. The treat is a rich blend of chocolate frosting, three layers of spongy chocolate cake, and a thin layer of apricot jam along with a side of whipped cream.
While the pastry is a sufficient reason to visit the hotel, we are going for a different reason: the hotel is family owned and operated. We are taking this trip as part of a Global Immersion in Family Business course at CBS. Our group is visiting Vienna and Graz to get a closer look at Austrian family businesses and how they operate. In Europe, over 60% of enterprises are family owned. In Austria specifically, there are many companies that are in the 4th and 5th generation of family ownership. This length of ownership is quite a feat- approximately 65% of family businesses fail during the 2nd generation and 87% fail during the 3rd generation.
During our time here, we are hoping to gain insight on best practices to maintain a lasting family business. We are also looking to learn about the cultural differences between European and American family enterprises. We have a packed schedule, but we will try to squeeze in a few local activities as well. And we will certainly be having a Sacher Torte.
By: Michael Murnane