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Family Business Education and Research Group (FBERG)

Established by Dr. Chris Graves and Dr. Jill Thomas in 2011, FBERG is Australia’s leading university-based group furthering family enterprise research, education, and engagement worldwide.

Through FBERG’s initiatives, the Adelaide Business School has been recognised as one of the top 25 global business schools for family business education and research.

FBERG’s mission is to advance the growth and performance of the family business field through its education programs developed in partnership with industry and its relevant thought-leading research.

  • Family businesses engaging with FBERGLearn about our research focus areas and supervision expertise

    FBERG engages with the family business sector in the following ways:

    • Conducting industry and academic-based research on family business to contribute to expand the knowledge and thought leadership in this area. Current projects include the KPMG-Family Business Australia National Family Business Survey, the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners 'Wealth and Estate Planning' and 'Business Succession' surveys. Current academic research projects include family branding, effect of succession patterns on strategy, family ownership concentration and firm strategic behaviour;
    • Promoting Family Business research to prospective higher degree research candidates and encourage research collaboration with academics from all disciplines around the University of Adelaide
    • Offering cutting-edge family business education. In 2018, FBERG is introducing the Graduate Certificate in Family Enterprise to develop the next generation of leaders in family business and also to develop advisors to business families. Postgraduate ad undergraduate family business electives are available to university students around Australia;
    • Consulting to Family Businesses on projects by FBERG academics;
    • Attracting research funding from multiple sources including family businesses, government and University sources;
    • Being a local, national and international authority and spokesbody for issues in Family Business including providing comment to a range of media
    • Engaging with family businesses to gain feedback and support for curriculum development and advice and participation in research projects
    • Dedicated academics focusing on the development of FBERG
  • Family Business EducationLearn about our research focus areas and supervision expertise

    FBERG offers a range of family business-specific courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

    Commencing in 2018 and designed in conjunction with industry, FBERG has developed the Graduate Certificate in Family Enterprise (GCFE) which is designed to develop future professionals for careers in the family business sector. The GCFE has two streams, namely, the NextGen Leadership stream (for future leaders of family businesses) and the Advising Business Families stream (for future advisors to business families).

    Students can undertake some of the GCFE courses as electives as part of our MBA program or enrol on a cross-institutional basis (i.e. to count towards studies taken at other universities).

    Anyone is able to apply to undertake one of our family business courses as a non-award student. You may or may not be presently enrolled in a University degree course, and may wish to undertake one of our courses for interest, or to obtain credit points toward a current or future qualification.

    For more information, email Dr. Chris Graves (chris.graves@adelaide.edu.au)

    Through interactive seminar classes and including presentations by business leaders, this course explores issues critical to family owned and managed businesses, such as governance, succession, family and shareholder relationships, and professionalisation. Learning outcomes include:

    • Developing strategies for managing and harnessing the dynamics between family, shareholders and the business
    • Evaluating governance structures necessary to optimise family firm performance
    • Incorporating the future needs of the family and the business into the planning processes
    • Identifying the issues to be addressed when planning for ownership and management succession
    • Analysing potential stressors in relationships between family and non family members in the business as well as the unique relationships that form when family members work together.

    The course is targeted at current and potential owners and managers of family businesses and those interacting with family businesses as managers, employees, customers, consultants and advisors.

    This course is also offered to appropriately qualified participants as a professional development course for family business sector and advisors and to existing students as a cross-institution enrolment or through the University of Adelaide’s Master of Commerce pathway.

    Participants wishing to enrol in the course outside of the Adelaide MBA (as a standalone course) should contact Dr. Chris Graves .

    This course aims to enhance students’ understanding of the characteristics, contributions, and issues surrounding the management and growth of small firms and family businesses. Topics include:

    • Small firm and family business characteristics and significance
    • Commencing and inheriting a business
    • Developing business and marketing plans
    • Choice of organisational structure and implications
    • Financing start-up and growth
    • Principles of sound financial management
    • Managing growth and ownership/management transitions
    • Role of advisors such as accountants
    • Exiting the business through succession to the next generation or through a trade sale

    The course will appeal to those who are interested in starting up their own business, as well as those interacting with small firms and family businesses as advisors, managers and policy-makers.

    Commencing in 2018 and designed in conjunction with industry, FBERG has developed the Graduate Certificate in Family Enterprise (GCFE) which is designed to develop future professionals for careers in the family business sector. The GCFE has two streams, namely, the NextGen Leadership stream (for future leaders of family businesses) and the Advising Business Families stream (for future advisors to business families).

    Students can undertake some of the GCFE courses as electives as part of our MBA program or enrol on a cross-institutional basis (i.e. to count towards studies taken at other universities).

    For more information, click here or email Dr. Chris Graves.

  • ResearchersMeet our academic research leaders

    FBERG draws on staff expertise across schools within the University of Adelaide in its research, education and industry engagement activities:

    Jill Thomas
    Dr Jill Thomas

    (FBERG co-founder) is a Adjunct Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide Business School. Jill is a family business educator and a family business researcher (areas of leadership and governance). Jill is a board member of Family Business Australia, and formerly a board member and Vice Chair of the Family Firm Institute (based in the USA)

    Chris Graves
    Dr Chris Graves(FBERG co-founder)

    Dr. Chris Graves is a Chartered Accountant, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the University of Adelaide’s Family Business Education and Research Group [FBERG]. Chris completed his PhD at the University of Adelaide, which investigated the influence of the family system on family business strategy and performance. His PhD research received an honourable mention award from the Family Firm Institute (FFI), based in the USA. He is currently undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Family Therapy as part of his work with the family business sector.

    Since joining the University of Adelaide in 2007, Chris has spent considerable time introducing family business curriculum in the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate programs. His undergraduate family business course attracts 350 students annually. In 2018, the University of Adelaide will be introducing the NEW Graduate Certificate in Family Enterprise (with an advisor stream and a family owner/next gen stream) – so watch this space!

    With regard to research, Chris publishes in top international journals such as Family Business Review. In 2013, 2015 and 2017, he has been responsible for undertaking the biennial KPMG-Family Business Australia ‘National Family Business Survey’.

    Frank Barbera
    Dr. Francesco (Frank) Barbera

    Frank is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) and a Co-Director of FBERG. In 2014 Frank received his Ph.D. in Economics from Bond University while working at the Australian Centre for Family Business. Frank’s research interests encompass a wide range of issues applied to family business, entrepreneurship, small business management, and family business education. Frank’s expertise also includes being the former Director of the Family Enterprise Center at Stetson University, designing and delivering various family business curricula in the USA and Australia, and serving on the Editorial Board of the Family Business Review.

    Michael Browne
    Michael Browne

    Michael has been an advisor to privately owned and family business for over 35 years. Until recently Michael was a Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers where he led the Private Client practice in Adelaide. In this role Michael advised private and family business on a wide range of aspects of their business that included management, strategy, corporate finance and general taxation and accounting compliance. Michael’s clients were in a broad range of industries.

    More recently Michael has undertaken further study and research in the area of family business completing his Bachelor of Business (Honours) in 2015 and is now continuing his research in the area of family business as PhD student at The University of Adelaide

    Domenic Carbone
    Mr Domenic Carbone

    Prior to joining the university, Domenic was a Tax Manager with one of the large (then "Big 6") accounting firms where he was mainly involved in the tax consulting, tax audit and indirect tax areas. He regularly advises family businesses on issues surrounding tax planning and taxation law.

    Gary Hancock
    Mr Gary Hancock

    Gary is a lecturer and undergraduate program director for the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation, and Innovation Centre (ECIC) at the University of Adelaide. Gary is an educator in the areas of small business management, new venture creation, business consulting, and entrepreneurship. He is currently undertaking a PhD in the field of early stage business financing. Specifically, he is interested in the phenomenon of how and why people engage in intra-family financing of new ventures.

    Tim Hasso
    Mr Tim Hasso

    Tim Hasso is currently a Junior Professor at Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany) where he performs research in the intersection between family ownership and accounting. He is particularly interested in how outside investors perceive family owned firms. Prior to his appointment at Leuphana University of Lüneburg he held academic appointments at University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Queensland University of Technology (Australia), and Bond University (Australia). His research has been published in the Journal of Business Ethics, the Family Business Review, and the Australian Accounting Review.

    Professor Noel Lindsay
    Professor Noel Lindsay

    Noel is currently the Director of the University of Adelaide’s Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation, and Innovation Centre (ECIC). Prior positions held include being Director of Bond University’s Australian Centre for Family Business. He leads the ECIC team in teaching and researching in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, technology commercialisation, and project management. With regard to family business, Noel’s research focuses on the role of family equity in business start-ups as well as understanding entrepreneurial behaviour and performance in the family business context.


    Ashley Miller
    Mr Ashley Miller

    Ashley has been an adjunct lecturer at the Adelaide MBA for 11 years. In addition, for the past 14 years he has worked in private banking, providing advice to affluent individuals, families and institutional-style clients. He has a strong expertise in banking, risk, asset allocation, superannuation, and estate and succession planning. Prior to joining NAB Private Wealth, Ashley held senior positions at KPMG and ANZ Private Bank, including the Head of Advisory and Risk for ANZ Private Bank's Australian business.

    Pi-Shen Seet
    Associate Professor Pi-Shen Seet

    Pi-Shen is Associate Professor at Flinders Business School, Flinders University. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge and is also a visiting research scholar at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. With the assistance of a research grant from CPA Australia, Dr. Seet published (with Dr. Chris Graves) published a research book on family businesses in 2010. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors that influence the use of private equity financing amongst family firms in general, and specifically, whether private equity investors can provide a practical solution to the upcoming succession crisis amongst family firms in western economies.

    Henry Shi
    Dr Henry Shi

    Henry is a Lecturer at the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC) of the University of Adelaide. Henry’s research and teaching focus on the evolution of socio-economic context and its impact on entrepreneurial SMEs, particularly family businesses, and their internationalisation, and is frequently comparative across the Asia-Pacific region. Henry previously held academic positions at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, both in New Zealand.

  • Prospective Higher Degree Research StudentsEnquire about joining the group

    Currently, the University of Adelaide Business School offers research degrees at the Honours (undergraduate), Masters (Masters of Business Research) and PhD level. There are many opportunities for students to undertake postgraduate research in the area of family business and work towards highly recognised qualifications from one of Australia’s leading universities.

    Based on the research expertise amongst the FBERG academic community, FBERG is able to offer supervision of higher degree research students undertaking research on family businesses in the following areas: Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Governance, Internationalisation and Leadership.


    The Family Business research group is actively seeking prospective PhD students to study with us and contribute to our understanding of this important field.

  • External CollaboratorsExplore opportunities for industry and professional collaboration

    The University of Adelaide understands the importance of collaborative research and strong partnerships with industry and professionals in today's global market.

    We view these interactions as essential elements in advancing the University's research and teaching objectives as well as adding value to you as our partners.

    The Faculty of the Professions is renowned for its academic diversity and is home to some of the most respected and eminent researchers at the University of Adelaide. Within the School of Education and ETC, our commitment to innovation and a culture of forward thinking helps to influence the world we live in.

    Our collaborative research activities span across government, business and community groups. Our under-pinning philosophy of research partnerships is to match your community needs and business opportunities with the resources and expertise of our Faculty. The expertise and knowledge of our academic staff, who are specialists in their fields, present great opportunities for organisations to grow and to make decisive contributions that can influence strategic agendas and operational frameworks.

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