The results of a pan-European survey reveal a gap in providing a lively, friendly, tailor-made package of services to European small and medium-sized family businesses.
The survey took place in the framework of the European project 'Family Business Training for the XXIst Century' (FBTXXIst), which is funded by the Leonardo da Vinci II Program of the European Commission. Companies, business schools and chambers from six European countries participate in this project: the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the consultants company BDO Stoy Hayward from Great Britain, the software development company Informacao Sistemas e Desenvolvimento from Portugal, the distance learning company Centro Studi «Cultura Sviluppo» from Italy, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the business schools ALBA, from Greece, and Instituto de Empresa, from Spain. Family business executives from these six European countries participated in the research and answered to a questionnaire either by mail or by personal interview.
The survey results revealed that there are clear opportunities in training activities but also in other complementary services, such as consultancy and networking, that will require different launching efforts, according to the country. Improving managerial and technical skills could be the starting point for the training proposal in order to satisfy preferences pointed out by family businesses. Despite the importance of family business issues, however, the lack of concern with these topics points out the relevance and opportunity of first raising awareness of these areas and then preparing firms to deal with them. Finally, the differing levels of usage of new technologies among countries and the low rating of on-line and virtual workshops as preferred learning methods, reveal the need to make an special effort in promoting the use of new technologies and in demonstrating the possibilities of an e-learning experience.
The 'Family Business Training for the XXIst Century' project's main objective is to offer, via the web, a user friendly-tailor made educational programme which will help family businesses to deal with both day to day running of the business matters and strategic issues.