Center of Family Enterprise Research (COFER)

The Center of Family Enterprise Research (COFER) helps to fill an important need in our society. Family businesses represent the vast majority of both new ventures and existing enterprises and contribute substantially to the U.S. economy. Furthermore, family businesses are not necessarily small; many very large companies such as Wal-Mart, Cargill, Johnson & Johnson, and Ford Motor are family businesses. However, the longevity of family businesses across generations is tenuous and many do not survive beyond the tenure of the founder.

For all their problems, family firms have unique capabilities that make them particularly well suited to compete in certain industries and environments. Understanding the reasons for the success of some family businesses and the failure of others will assist managers in designing more effective strategies and policies for the use of scarce resources.

Mississippi State University is particularly well positioned to take advantage of the recent interest in the study of family business. Currently there are four management faculty members who are actively engaged in research on family business topics and several others in management and other disciplines who are beginning to turn their attention to this important topic area. This provides MSU with a leadership position in family business research. The intention of the Center is to institutionalize and exploit these strengths by producing high quality research, training graduate students, organizing conferences, and otherwise promoting the development of family business research that will assist in the improvement of management practices and performance.


To conduct and promote original research on family business, to provide educational and research opportunities for graduate students, primarily at the doctoral level, and to disseminate the results of research to family businesses throughout the U.S., and Mississippi in particular, in order to improve their management and performance.


To be recognized as the leader in family business research, both nationally and internationally.

The Center's mission and vision will be accomplished by leveraging its existing human resources, developing interest in family firm research within the College and throughout the University, and by exploiting our existing partnership with the University of Alberta's (Canada) Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise and WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management and the INTES Center of Family Enterprises (Germany).


The creation and dissemination of knowledge regarding, among other things:

  1. The creation, development, and generational transitions of family businesses.
  2. The strategic management of family businesses.
  3. The causes and consequences of differences in the organizational behavior of family and non-family businesses.
  4. The determinants of the economic performance of family businesses.

Primary Objectives

The primary objectives over the next 3-5 years are to:

  1. Produce substantial and significant peer-reviewed publications on family business.
  2. Organize conferences and symposia with international breadth on family business research.
  3. Generate significant external funding.
  4. Increase the quality and quantity of doctoral graduates at MSU.
  5. Ensure that the results of that research are made available to family business leaders in Mississippi.

Contribution and Impact to the University

The establishment of a Center of Family Enterprise Research is consistent with the mission of Mississippi State University and its FutureState 2015 objectives, which includes family business as an emerging center of excellence. Thus, the Center is committed to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge in a field where the University can gain national and international prominence and to the economic development of the state, region, and nation.

The Center also contributes to the University by providing research opportunities for faculty members, increasing the quality and quantity of doctoral students, and by seeking funding from private donors, industry, and government agencies.