Former Kennesaw State Professor Recognized for Work Supporting Family Businesses

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 26, 2021) — Although Joe Astrachan retired from Kennesaw State University four years ago, the prolific family business educator and researcher has never stopped being an Owl.

The Emeritus Professor of Management and former executive director of Kennesaw State’s Cox Family Enterprise Center recently received two Schulze Publication Awards from Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange, a top resource for peer-reviewed research on entrepreneurship. The Schulze Award includes a cash prize donated to the recipient’s university of choice. Astrachan donated his $2,500 prize to Kennesaw State’s Michael J. Coles College of Business.  

Former Kennesaw State University professor Joe Astrachan

“For me, it was about honoring the place where I got my faculty start in family business,” Astrachan said. “Plus, I have a lot of gratitude for [Coles College Dean] Robin Cheramie. She’s always been supportive of me and the work I do.”

The donation will help fund scholarships for Coles College students.

“I am extremely grateful that Joe is sharing this honor with the Michael J. Coles College of Business,” Cheramie said. “For more than two decades, Joe was dedicated to our college and the Cox Family Enterprise Center, as well as to his mission to use research to help family businesses thrive.”

Astrachan earned the publication awards for the articles “How Family Dynamics Shape Family Businesses,” co-written by his wife Claudia Binz Astrachan, and “COVID-19: Understanding the Board’s Key Role During a Crisis,” also co-written by Claudia along with Andrew Keyt and Hermut Kormann.

The latter article, which has been accessed more than 15,000 times, provides detailed advice on how boards can better prepare for major business disruptions. Recommendations include making sure boards agree on the nature of their business and the crisis, establishing processes for everything from employee health to public relations management, and ensuring frequent internal and external communications.

Inspiration for the article came from a study he, Claudia, and an international team of scholars conducted in April 2020 about COVID responses, as well as from his own experience currently serving on the boards of nine private companies, which has taught him to recognize and react to signs of trouble.

Joe Astrachan presenting at a conference“In November 2019, I was saying to a lot of my boards that we need to be planning for this pandemic,” Astrachan said. “I started telling them to renegotiate leases and prepare for supply chain problems and lockdowns. Three months later, we saw that COVID was going to be a huge threat. I started getting calls from senior managers calling me their hero.”

Astrachan’s interest in family business started early. His family owned one of the world’s largest shipping companies, which went under in the early 1980s due to economic challenges and familial disagreements. The son of a Yale professor, Astrachan went on to earn four degrees from the institution and develop a passion for helping families prevent what happened to his.

He joined Kennesaw State as a professor in 1992 with the goal of applying the same rigor often reserved for medical and scientific research to the study of family businesses. Throughout his career, Astrachan has written or co-written 65 research publications, 25 chapters, and ten books on entrepreneurship, management, and family business operations.

He also served as editor-in-chief of Family Business Review – the leading peer-reviewed journal in the field – and, in 2010, co-founded the Journal of Family Business Strategy. In 2021, the JFBS obtained an impact factor of 5.2, making it the second-most-cited academic journal covering family business and among the top third of all management and business journals worldwide.

As executive director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center for 15 years, Astrachan championed the organization’s goal of providing education and resources to help family businesses avoid the pitfalls that his family faced. Among his successes was launching the executive MBA program for family businesses.

“Joe Astrachan’s work for the Cox Family Enterprise Center was foundational,” said current executive director Gaia Marchisio. “He helped the center become a globally recognized authority on family business education and research. The Journal of Family Business Strategy’s growing reputation is a testament to Joe’s passion for the subject.”   

Astrachan, who left Kennesaw State in 2017, continues to serve on multiple for-profit and nonprofit boards and is currently the visiting professor for Leadership and Dynamics in Family Businesses at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany, an affiliated professor with the Centre for Family Entrepreneurship and Ownership at Jönköping International Business School in Sweden, and Family Business Scholar with the Smith Family Business Initiative at Cornell University. While his career in family business has taken him around the world, Kennesaw State University will always be special to him.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “KSU gave me an unbelievable platform to grow as well as plenty of freedom and support. I’m glad I can give back as much as I have.”

-Patrick Harbin