A Conversation with George Vozikis, Director of the Institute for Family Business at California State University Fresno

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

Founded in 1989, the Institute for Family Business (IFB) at California State University, Fresno seeks to preserve the family business heritage in Fresno and the surrounding central San Joaquin Valley. The IFB provides a forum for exchanging ideas, research findings, academic courses and information about the business and personal issues that are unique to family firms. The Institute offers a variety of educational opportunities through guest speakers, industry professionals, and the family members themselves at seminars and affinity meetings as well as occasions for networking with family business owners. The IFB promotes the enhancement of family business as a key to the economic development of the state of California. The IFB is a reciprocal member of the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, the Visalia Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

In August 2006, Dr. George Vozikis accepted the position of full-time Director of the IFB under the auspices of the Craig School of Business. Dr. Vozikis has had a long and distinguished academic career and holds the Reigard Endowed Chair in Management at Fresno State. Originally from Greece, Dr. Vozikis experienced family business first hand as the son of a business owner. Then, George came to the United States and earned his PhD at the University of Georgia. From a life-long interest in family business, he brings the vitality of a dedicated family business researcher to the Institute of Family Business as well as a convivial and friendly manner.

Author: Please, tell us a little bit about yourself - your background, where you went to school, and where you come from.

Vozikis: I am originally from Athens, Greece. I went to law school at the University of Athens, but I knew from the start that I would not be a good lawyer. I came to the United States and I earned an MBA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Then, I tried to get a job, but this was during a recession in 1975. So, I did not get a job and decided to go back for a PhD at the University of Georgia. I majored in strategic management and wrote my dissertation on small business because there was no such thing as entrepreneurship at the time (1979). From there, my first job was at the University of North Texas (North Texas State at the time). Since then, I have been at several universities - big and small, private and public - including University of Oklahoma, University of Miami (Florida), Memphis State, The Citadel with an endowed chair in 1990, and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. I have been all over the place. Then, I went to the University of Tulsa with another endowed chair and now I am finishing my career at Fresno State with the Reighard Endowed Chair in Management. This is my sixth year at Fresno State.

Author: You are also the director of the Institute for Family Business at Fresno State?

Vozikis: Yes, the Institute has been here at Fresno for over twenty years with its "ups" and "downs," but hopefully I will leave it in good shape for my successor and then drift off into the sunset.

Author: So, you were not the founding director of the Institute. How did the IFB get started?

Vozikis: The way it came into being is that there was a gentleman from a small town south of here called Dinuba. His father started a frozen Mexican food company called El Monterey Frozen Foods. He had some issues with his father - we call them issues, not problems, in family business. He looked around Fresno for some help, but there was nothing there. So, he went to Oregon State, which had a very successful, endowed family business institute. He talked to some people there and resolved the issue. When he came back, he said that we needed a family business center here in Fresno. Then, he founded our institute. Over the years, they had some outsiders and temporary directors for the institute. I believe I was the first one the dean committed to as a faculty person who specializes in family business and has done some research in it. …

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