The College of Business’ Center for Family Enterprise is thrilled to introduce Ted Paterson as its new director. Paterson is the L.W. “Bill” Lane Professor in Family Business Management and an associate professor of management in the college.

Under his leadership, the new center continues the Austin Family Business Program’s 35-year history of providing resources and education to current and future family business owners and employees as well as the advisors that serve them.

Paterson also brings his extensive research experience to the center’s new mission to increase its own research presence in the family enterprise space.

Here, we talk with Paterson about his experience, his dedication to family businesses and his ideas for expanding the center’s reach and impact. 


How did you become interested in studying family businesses?

There were family businesses on both my mother’s and father’s side when I was growing up. It was educational to learn about the struggles and successes that my grandparents had as the first-generation leaders of those businesses. I then witnessed the challenges of succession as their businesses have continued through multiple generations.

Perhaps because of my experiences in family businesses, one of the very first research projects that I worked on as a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska was about family businesses and the role that religious beliefs played therein. Since then I have continued to have an interest in exploring issues related to family businesses including entrepreneurship.


What are your plans for expanding the center’s research presence?

I was a financial advisor for almost a decade before pursuing a career in academia, so a focus on the practical application of academic business research has always been important to me. As part of my dissertation work I explored the relevance of academic business research to managers and how — despite common thinking to the contrary — the more rigorous research is, the more relevant it seems to be to managers. This project led me to insights about how academia can produce research that is relevant and interesting to audiences outside of the academy, and I hope to apply the perspective I gained as we build out the research mission of the center.


What kinds of insights are you hoping will result from the center’s research?

Although the family business structure is extremely common, with upwards of 80% of U.S. businesses identified as family businesses, research into the specific challenges and opportunities that face these types of businesses is still developing. Family businesses are a rich context for exploring research questions because of the complex interplay of family and businesses issues. I think that much of the broader business research can be applied to family businesses, but there is value in asking and answering questions that relate specifically to the family-business interface. Of particular interest to me currently is the positive impact that family businesses have on the broader communities of which they are a part.


What are your plans for educational offerings?

The family business program in the College of Business at Oregon State has a long history of providing important programming for family business owners and employees and their professional advisors. We plan to continue to expand those offerings and are currently conducting research that will inform us of how to best meet the needs of our various audiences. For OSU students, we are looking to revamp and expand our course offerings related to family businesses. As we do so, we hope to attract more students to the family business minor and option currently offered in the College of Business.