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Succeeding in the global economy as a mid-sized family-owned “hidden champion”

Target group

This Master Class is designed for owners and managing directors of mid-sized companies (annual revenues between $50 million and $500) who want to take their business to the next level of performance.

Learning target

German mid-sized companies (“German Mittelstand”) are global leaders in many industry sectors. They dominate medium- and high-tech sectors in numerous investment goods and durable consumer product market segments. Their global success is driven not only by their superior products, but also by their unique managerial practices that significantly differ from the mainstream practices currently taught by US Business Schools, which focus on increasing short-term shareholder value. Contrary to this singular focus, German Mittelstand core values and practices favour a focus on long-term survival derived from the combination of long-lasting relationships with key company stakeholders and a commitment to excellent products and services. This seminar will explore the “secret” of the German Mittelstand model by explaining the origins of their sustained success.

In addition to lectures given by top experts in the field, from both academia and the industry, the program will also include a field day with visits to two internationally successful German Mittelstand companies. The company visits will take place in the Heilbronn Franken region, one of the strongest economic regions with a high density of family-owned and globally active Mittelstand companies The local host will be Dr. Gunther Wobser, President and CEO of the LAUDA Group which is a 3rd generation, family-owned global leader in the area of innovative constant temperature equipment and systems for science, application technology and production. The company has approximately 420 employees, more than EUR 70 million in annual turnover and eleven foreign subsidiaries.

This programme will provide participants with inspirational insight and practical tips on how to best position their company in the global economy.

This programme will be led by Prof. Dr. Bernd Venohr, one of the leading experts on the success model of the German Mittelstand companies. Prof. Venohr works for German family companies in terms of developing their growth strategies. Another notable member of the core faculty is Prof. Dr. Hermut Kormann, the former Executive Board Chairman of the Voith Group, one of the largest and oldest family-owned German industrial companies. He is an internationally recognized expert in the area of family business management.



  • Management "Made in Germany"

  • The business environment in Germany

  • Mittelstand companies: types and characteristics

  • Innovation processes for techonology leadership

  • Developing international sales and distribution networks

  • Manufacturing networks & Supply-Chain Management

  • Managing the family business

  • Two Company site visits


Lecture, site visits


3 Tage


per person including full board accommodation:

5.200 EUR

Concept & Agenda

Day 1

Session 1: The German Model: Management practices and the German business environment (overview) 
Prof. Dr. Bernd Venohr

  • Mittelstand companies: types and characteristics
  • Management “Made in Germany”: Niche market strategies; operational excellence; Family Business Culture
  • The business environment in Germany (access to capital; technology transfer; vocational training system)


Session 2: Best practices in key functions 1

Innovation processes to establish and sustain technology leadership:
Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner;
Frankfurt School of Finance & Management;
co-founder and partner of Munich Innovation Group

Opening Dinner

Day 2

Session 3: Best practices in key functions 2

  • Developing international sales and distribution networks:
    Mr. Erhard Bingel;
    Vice President Global Key Account Management, KSB AG
  • Manufacturing networks; Supply-Chain Management and Industry 4.0:
    Prof. Dr. Alexander Tsipoulanidis,
    Professor of Operations Management at the Berlin School of Law and Economics and former Senior Manufacturing Executive,
    Bombardier Transportation


Session 4: Managing the family business
Prof. Dr. Hermut Kormann holds honorary professorships at the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen and at the University Leipzig.

  • Leadership culture
  • Governance: role of family / external managers  
  • Succession: ownership / operational management

Dinner with the owner: 
Dr. Gunther Wobser,
President and CEO,

Day 3

Field day: Company site visit 1: LAUDA Group

  • Factory visit
  • Meet the owner Dr. Gunther Wobser: company overview and one focus topic (e.g. managing global growth)
  • Q+A


Field day: Company site visit 2 (tbc)

  • Factory visit
  • Meet the owner / managing director : company overview and one focus topic (e.g.: what does Industry 4.0 mean for us?)
  • Q+A

Closing Dinner

Questions & Booking