New chair holder in family enterprise announced

New chair holder in family enterprise announced

The University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business announced the appointment of Dr. Ritch Sorenson as the new Opus Chair in Family Enterprise at the business school’s Schulze School of Entrepreneurship.

A longtime professor at Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business Administration, Sorenson will serve as a family-enterprise ambassador to the larger business community, teach graduate and undergraduate courses, and advance research in the field of family business.

Ritch Sorenson

Sorenson, who will come to St. Thomas later this summer, brings years of experience in family-enterprise education from both an academic and administrative standpoint. At Texas Tech he served as a department chair, director of a Communication Skills Center, and director of the Center for Entrepreneurial and Family Business, where he developed curricula and managed entrepreneurial projects and community outreach.

Recently elected chair for the Family Business division of the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Sorenson’s work at St. Thomas will merge the study and practice of family business, integrating the Center for Family Enterprise into both the business school curriculum and the local business community.

“Ritch’s esteemed reputation and scholarly research in this emerging academic field further solidifies the Opus College of Business as a national leader in family-enterprise education, and will help us to better understand what public companies can learn from the consistent success of the family-business model,” said Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the Opus College of Business. “He will act as a superb ambassador for the Center for Family Enterprise, playing an invaluable role in driving new research initiatives and forging connections with Minnesota’s family-business community.”

Sorenson holds a Ph.D. in organizational communication from Purdue University. He has taught courses in leadership, conflict management and organizational behavior in addition to family business, and was involved in doctoral-student and junior-faculty research at Texas Tech University.

While there, he established the nation’s first management major with an emphasis in family business. In addition, he developed a groundbreaking survey of family businesses and elicited responses from more than 400 businesses nationwide. The information he obtained continues to provide a basis for academic research in family business.

He helped develop the concept of family capital as a unifying mechanism for understanding successful family business, which demonstrates how resources within families provide an advantage for family firms. Sorenson’s work has been published in journals such as Family Business Review, Journal of Business Venturing Group and Organizational Studies, The Leadership Quarterly and Academy of Management Executive.

Family businesses account for approximately 65 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and employ nearly two-thirds of the country's work force.

The Center for Family Enterprise was founded in 1990 as a research organization that provides faculty and family business leaders with awareness, knowledge and skills about how best to run family and closely held businesses.