Engaging the Family Enterprise

WashU Olin’s Koch Center for Family Enterprise generates insight into the holistic family enterprise.

The center concentrates on three areas of family enterprise: business (core operations), office (investment) and foundation (philanthropy), and we seek to make these learnings actionable for current and future family business leaders. The Koch Center brings this mission to life through multifaceted engagement with enterprise leaders, rigorous scholarship on issues facing these leaders, and support of student development in the classroom and through rich experiential learning, connection and research opportunities.

The programming at the Koch Center offers unique insights to students on the often-overlooked topic of family business. Family firms make up the vast majority of businesses worldwide, yet most business programs barely discuss this fact. The program's courses and events provide a more realistic understanding of the business world.

—Alivia Kaplan, BSBA 2022, Strategy & Operations Lead, INVERSA Leathers
  • Developing Students

    Family business analysis is woven throughout Olin’s curriculum. Beyond the inclusion of closely held business cases, family enterprises are also spotlighted through experiential learning outside the classroom. Courses focused explicitly on family enterprise include Ownership Insights: The Competitive Advantage of Family- and Employee-Owned Firms, Entrepreneurship through Acquisition, and the Small Business Initiative, run through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. In 2023—24, the center designed and hosted Olin’s first national case competition that focused on the Taylor family’s balance of purpose and performance through their investment in the city’s Major League Soccer expansion team and their hopes for economic development of the region.

  • Engaging Leaders

    The Koch Center delves into topics that impact family businesses through special events, including large audience symposiums and smaller, more intimate engagements and opportunities for custom applications. Our immersive events include our annual Family Enterprise Symposium.

  • Creating Research

    Family enterprise contributes approximately 64% of the US GDP (and even a higher percentage in other countries), yet there isn’t a trusted resource for research-formed insights in this area. The Koch Center fills that role, bringing new knowledge to leaders of closely-held organizations to support enhanced professionalism, nuanced sophistication in their long-term perspective, and wisdom in how these leaders balance family and business purposes. At the heart of this work is rigorous scholarship generated by our center directors, distinguished faculty affiliates, and students who step into this work in their role as Family Enterprise Scholars.

Koch Center Fast Facts


8th Annual Symposium

Event in 2024


Areas of Focus

Business, Investment, Philanthropy



Annual Attendees at Center Events


Family Enterprise

Scholars Annually