Franz Kellermanns is advancing knowledge for students and for the global business community.
Belk College of Business Professor Franz W. Kellermanns’ research is literally helping to define family business in the United States.
A recent eye-opening study, a collaboration between Family Enterprise USA and researchers including Kellermanns and Belk College Associate Professor Torsten Pieper, found that family-owned businesses remain the largest U.S. employer, employing 83.3 million people, 49% of the private sector workforce.
Implications from the Family Enterprise USA study is likely to inform public policy in North Carolina and the wider United States for decades. The findings suggest that family businesses have a meaningful and measurable impact on increasing every American’s quality of life in every community. These findings suggest that family businesses, in the broadest definition, contribute 54% of private sector GDP, or $7.7 trillion.
"I am proud of our work at UNC Charlotte," Kellermanns says. "We work well as a team. I could not do it alone."
Kellermanns ranks as one of the top family business researchers in the world for a reason: Papers he has authored have been cited close to 20,000 times, enough to place him as the most productive author in the world in the field, according to The Journal of Family Business Strategy. The No.1 ranking is based on total papers in three top family business and entrepreneurship peer-reviewed journals.
Kellermanns has been published in peer-reviewed journals over 140 times.
The publication also ranked the Belk College as the sixth most productive business school in family firm research in the world and No. 3 in the United States.
Kellermanns' expertise in research also has been crucial to the success of the Doctorate in Business Administration program, one of the Belk College’s signature programs, says Reginald Silver, associate dean for graduate programs and executive education at the Belk College. Kellermanns serves as the DBA academic director.
"Dr. Kellermanns has been an integral part of our DBA program since its launch in 2017. With his expertise in entrepreneurship and management, he has advised numerous doctoral students and guided them through their dissertation process."
Backbone of the Economy
Kellermans says family businesses range from mom and pop operations with a few employees to global brands such as Wal-Mart.
Kellermanns' interest in family business stems from his own personal experiences in his centennial family business in Germany. But there is another reason.
"Entrepreneurship is the model for U.S. growth,” Kellermanns says. “Most research is done on Fortune 500 companies, but that is not the majority of the workforce. Most entrepreneurial ventures end up as family-business entities, which form the backbone of the economy. These businesses are often not on the radar, which is interesting because these businesses tend to be more innovative and excel at doing more with less."
Kellermans also noted that many family-owned businesses fail generations, and the lack of a succession plan is a big contributor to the failure.