Raffi Amit

Raffi Amit
  • Marie and Joseph Melone Professor
  • Professor of Management

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    2012 SHDH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: business model innovation, family business, strategic management, entrepreneurship, venture capital financing of startups

Links: CV, Google Scholar, Wharton Global Family Alliance, Wharton Entrepreneurship


Raphael (“Raffi”) Amit is the Marie and Joseph Melone Professor and a Professor of Management at the Wharton School. Dr. Amit founded and leads the Wharton Global Family Alliance (WGFA), a unique academic-family business partnership established to enhance the marketplace advantage and the social wealth creation contributions of enterprising families through thought leadership, knowledge transfers and the sharing of ideas and best practices among influential global families. He has served as the Academic Director with overall responsibility for Wharton Entrepreneurship which encompasses all of Wharton’s entrepreneurial programs between 1999 and 2015.

Dr. Amit holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Economics, and received his Ph.D. in Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Dr. Amit’s current research and teaching interests center on family business management, governance, and finance, on Family wealth management, on venture capital and private equity investments, on entrepreneurship, on the design of innovative business models and on business strategy. He has published extensively in leading academic journals and is frequently quoted in a broad range of practitioner outlets.

Dr. Amit’s award winning research on family firms, which centers on issues that relate to ownership, management, control and governance of family businesses, on wealth management, and on family offices is widely cited. He has been working with substantial families around the world on such issues as creating governance systems for families and their businesses, succession, valuation, wealth management, the formation of a family office, and more. Overall, the work of Dr. Amit with families integrates the behavioral and emotional issues that characterize the life of each family, with the economic and financial issues that must be addressed to sustain family harmony and happiness alongside with the long-term prosperity of the family enterprises.

Professor Amit has held a range of management and Board of Directors positions in various companies. He served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Creo Products Inc. for 6 years. (NASDAQ: CREO until May 2005 when it was acquired by Kodak.) Professor Amit has helped form the Korean Global IT Fund, a $100 million VC fund and has served as the first Chairman of the KGIF Advisory Board. He has served on the Board of Directors of Alvarion Ltd. a wireless communication equipment company, and has been a member of the Audit and Compensation Committees of Alvarion. He has also served as the only external director of a private family owned and controlled firm in Hong Kong. Dr. Amit currently serves on the Board of Directors of a global family controlled firm and advises numerous private and publicly held family controlled businesses, on a broad range of strategic, governance and financial issues.


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  • Valentina Assenova and Raffi Amit (2024), Poised For Growth: Exploring the Relationship Between Accelerator Program Design and Startup Performance, Strategic Management Journal, 45 (6), pp. 1029-1060. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.3581

    Abstract: Accelerator programs provide valuable market feedback and education to participants that may improve startup performance. However, it is unclear whether the average effect of accelerator participation on startup performance post acceleration is positive, and if so, how this effect varies with accelerator program design. We analyze data from 8,580 startups that made it past the initial selection stage at 408 accelerators in 176 countries between 2013 and 2019. We compare accelerated and non-accelerated startups and find a positive average effect of accelerator participation on startup performance post acceleration. Moreover, we find that this effect varies substantially with program design, and depends on venture stage, industry, and founder expertise. Our findings highlight the impact of program design on the benefits that startups derive from accelerator participation.  

    Description: The purpose of this study is to determine whether participation in startup accelerator programs generally leads to improved startup performance post acceleration and how the benefits of participation might vary with the design of these programs. We analyze data from 8,580 startups that applied to and passed the initial selection phase at 408 accelerators in 176 countries over multiple cohorts between 2013 and 2019. Our results indicate that on average, startups that participate in accelerators perform better than those that are also selected but not accelerated. Furthermore, we find that the benefits that startups gain from being accelerated vary with the design of the program. Our findings highlight the importance of accelerator program design in influencing the extent of improvement in startup performance post acceleration.

  • Emilie Feldman, Raffi Amit, Siwen Chen (2024), Hedge Fund Activism in Family Firms, Strategic Management Journal.

    Abstract: This article examines the antecedents and outcomes of hedge fund activism in family versus nonfamily firms. We find that activist hedge funds are less likely to initiate campaigns against family firms than nonfamily firms, but the cumulative abnormal returns to announcements of campaigns against family firms exceed those of nonfamily firms. The presence of one or more family members on a firm's board of directors appears to be a key impediment to hedge fund activism in family firms. Additionally, activist hedge funds are more likely to use hostile tactics and demand more substantive changes in their campaigns against family firms than nonfamily firms. Together, these findings contribute to the agency theory-based literatures on hedge fund activism, family firms, boards of directors, and corporate governance.

  • Valentina Assenova and Raffi Amit (Under Revision), Why are Some Nations More Entrepreneurial than Others? Unraveling the Link Between Cultural Tightness-Looseness and New Firm Creation.

    Abstract: Grounded in cultural systems theory, we evaluate the role of cultural variation along the tightness-looseness continuum as a potential explanation for cross-national differences in the propensity to engage in entrepreneurship. Employing a novel research design that instruments for cultural tightness-looseness, we investigate whether greater cultural looseness explains higher rates of new firm creation using global data on entrepreneurship rates from national business registries. Our results reveal that the construct of cultural tightness-looseness explains 40 percent of the variation in new firm creation rates per 1000 people in the working age population in a sample of 57 nations. Nations with higher cultural looseness also exhibit stronger cultural support for entrepreneurship, greater entrepreneurial opportunity perception, and greater entrepreneurial aspirations, on average, than those with lower cultural looseness.

    Description: Revision invited, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal

  • Raffi Amit and Christoph Zott, Business Model Innovation Strategy: Transformational Concepts and Tools for Entrepreneurial Leaders (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2020)

  • Raffi Amit, X Han, C. Zott, “Collaboration in business model innovation”. In The Oxford Handbook of Entrepreneurship and Collaboration, Chapter 25, edited by J. Reuer, S. Matusik, and J. Jones, (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming, 2020)

  • Raffi Amit, Yuliya Snihur, Christoph Zott (2020), Capturing value from emerging technologies: The role of strategic business model design, Strategy Science, forthcoming ().

  • Raffi Amit, L. Huang, H. Han CredEx Fintech: Business Model Transformation during the Digital Era.

    Description: HBS Case Study 9-420-080 (23 pages).

  • Raffi Amit, L. Huang, H. Han Teaching Note: CredEx Fintech: Business Model Transformation during the Digital Era.

    Description: HBS Case Study 5-420-123 (20 pages).

  • Belén Villalonga and Raffi Amit (2020), Family Ownership, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 36 (2), pp. 241-257.

    Abstract: This article reviews the existing literature about the most prevalent form of corporate ownership around the world: ownership by individuals—particularly founders—and families. We summarize the existing evidence about the prevalence and persistence of family ownership around the world, along with its impact on performance—both financial and non-financial—relative to other types of corporate ownership. We discuss how and why these empirical facts and findings come about—why owners in general, and family owners in particular, are critical drivers of firm behaviour and performance, and how they are able to exercise their influence over corporations in which other shareholders, such as institutional investors, and other stakeholders can also play an important role.

  • Emilie Feldman, Raffi Amit, Belén Villalonga (2019), Family Firms and the Stock Market Performance of Acquisitions and Divestitures, Strategic Management Journal, 40 (5), pp. 757-780.

    Abstract: This paper explores the stock market performance of acquisitions and divestitures where both, one, or neither of the companies in the transaction are family firms. We find that acquirer shareholder returns are highest when family firms buy businesses from non-family firm divesters, especially when family CEO acquirers buy businesses from non-family CEO divesters. Additionally, divester shareholder returns are highest when family firms sell businesses to non-family firm acquirers, especially when family CEO divesters sell businesses to non-family CEO acquirers. These findings reveal that it is important to consider the characteristics of both the acquiring and divesting firms when analyzing acquisition and divestiture performance, and that the expected gains to family firm acquisitions and divestitures are driven by transactions in which the counterparties are non-family firms.


All Courses

  • MGMT2320 - Bus Mod Innov Strategy

    Business Model Innovation Strategy is a half semester MBA elective course which centers on the conceptualization, design, analysis and implementation of novel business models by incumbent and by new venture leaders as well as on the organizational challenges associated with a business model innovation strategy. Students will be introduced to a framework for developing and implementing a new business model. The framework will be brought to life through a combination of lectures, in-class exercises, numerous illustrations and case discussions.

  • MGMT2640 - Ven Capital & Ent Mgmt

    This course focuses on venture capital management issues in the context of a high-growth potential start-up company. The course is motivated by rapid increases in both the supply of and demand for private equity over the past two decades. The topic is addressed from two distinct perspectives: issues that relate to the demand for private equity and venture capital (the entrepreneur's perspective) on the one hand, and issues that relate to the supply of capital (the investor's perspective) on the other. As well, we will address management issues that relate to how the VC and the entrepreneur work together once an investment has been made, compensation issues, and governance issues in the privately held venture capital backed company. Format: Case/discussion format, supplemented by lectures and guest speakers.

  • MGMT7650 - Venture Capital & Ent Mg

    This elective half-semester course will highlight venture capital and entrepreneurship in general and will explore selected aspects of this industry, including: industry trends and dynamics in Silicon Valley and the South of Market area (SOMA) of San Francisco; the recent emergence of alternative sources of startup financing, including incubators/accelerators and crowdfunding platforms, angel groups and stage-agnostic institutional investors; business and operational aspects of early stage companies in transition to mezzanine-level stages of growth; and company "exits," including both initial public offerings and merger/sale transactions. MGMT765 and MGMT804 cover separate issues within the same general industry and are not redundant. This course addresses issues faced by later stage VC backed firms, while MGMT804 centers on early stage, pre-revenue startups. It is recommended students take MGMT 801 before enrolling in this course. The format of this course relies heavily on site visits and recognized leaders within the Bay Area to bring forth on-the-ground perspectives of a changing and important industry. While MGMT804 is not a prerequisite, the two courses are complementary.

  • MGMT8040 - Venture Cap & Ent Mgmt

    This elective half-semester course focuses on venture capital management issues in the context of the typical high-growth potential early stage start-up company. The course is fundamentally pragmatic in its outlook. It will cover seven principal areas relevant to the privately held high-growth start-up which include: commentary on the venture capital industry generally, as well as a discussion of the typical venture fund structure and related venture capital objectives and investment strategies; common organizational issues encountered in the formation of a venture backed start-up, including issues relating to initial capitalization, intellectual property and early stage equity arrangements; valuation methodologies that form the basis of the negotiation between the entrepreneur and the venture capitalist in anticipation of a venture investment; the challenges of fundraising, financing strategies and the importance of the business plan and the typical dynamics that play out between VC and entrepreneur. It is recommended students take MGMT 801 before enrolling in this course. typical investment terms found in the term sheet and the dynamics of negotiation between the entrepreneur and the venture capitalist; compensation practices in a venture capital backed company; and corporate governance in the context of a privately-held, venture capital-backed start-up company and the typical dynamics that play out between VC and entrepreneur in an insider-led, "down round" financing.

  • MGMT8320 - Bus Mod Innov Strategy

    Business Model Innovation Strategy is a half semester MBA elective course which centers on the conceptualization, design, analysis and implementation of novel business models by incumbent and by new venture leaders as well as on the organizational challenges associated with a business model innovation strategy. Students will be introduced to a framework for developing and implementing a new business model. The framework will be brought to life through a combination of lectures, in-class exercises, numerous illustrations and case discussions.

  • MGMT9370 - Entrep Research Seminar

    The seminar seeks to expose students to theoretical and empirical perspectives on entrepreneurship research. We will focus on the main questions that define the field and attempt to critically examine how, using a range of methodologies, researchers have approached these questions. As we review the literature, we will seek to identify promising research areas, which may be of interest to you in the context of your dissertation research. In addition to addressing the content of the received literature, we will examine the process of crafting research papers and getting them published in top tier journals. Towards that end we will characterize the key elements of high impact papers and review the development process of such studies. Students are expected to come fully prepared to discuss and critique the readings that are assigned to each class meeting (see details below). Each student will serve as the discussion leader for one or more of the class sessions. Discussion leaders are expected to critically review several articles, identify new insights in the research that is being reviewed and evaluate its contribution to the literature, position the articles within the literature on the subject matter, raise discussion question, and act as the discussion moderator for the class session. Each discussion leader is asked to prepare a one or two page summary of the assigned papers which includes a statement of the main research question(s), the methodology, data set if any, summary of findings, a commentary with your thoughts on the reading, and proposed discussion questions. Prior to each class, the discussion leader will meet the instructor to help plan the class meeting. Towards the end of each class meeting, each student will be asked to articulate a research question that emerged from the session and describe the research design used to investigate the issue.

  • MGMT9380 - Seminar in Social Entrep

    This half-semester course examines how social enterprise organizations emerge, attract resources, and affect society. The course will bridge micro and macro theoretical perspectives to provide insight into the unique challenges faced by social enterprises, while also showing how the study of such organizations can help to advance mainstream entrepreneurship research. Individual sessions will focus on defining social entrepreneurship, the tensions and tradeoffs that emerge in organizations that pursue social and financial goals, impact investing and other sources of finance, and the role of incubators/accelerators in supporting the development of these organizations. This is a seminar-based course with active discussion and analysis.

Awards and Honors

  • Sage Scholarly Impact Award – Finalist, 2016
  • Best Paper in Financial Management, Financial Management Association Annual Meeting, 2012
  • Elected Fellow of the Strategic Management Society, 2009
  • The Idea Award for thought leadership. Entrepreneurship Division, the Academy of Management, 2008
  • European Corporate Governance Institute for best paper in Finance prize “Benefits and costs of control: Enhancing Mechanisms in U.S. Family Firms”, 2007
  • The Greif Entrepreneurship Research Impact Award, 2007
  • Family Firm Institute best unpublished research paper (“Benefits and Costs of Control enhancing mechanisms in U.S Family Firms”), 2006
  • Strategic Management Journal Best Paper Prize “Strategic Assets and Organization Rents” (with Paul Schoemaker, Volume 14 Number 1, January 1993), 2000
  • McKinsey & Company/Strategic Management Society Best Conference Paper Prize Honorable Mention. 20th Annual International Conference October 2000 Vancouver Canada for “Value Drivers of e-Commerce Business Models” (with C. Zott), 2000
  • Discovery Foundation Research Fellow, 1994
  • Ascendant Scholar Award, Western Academy of Management, 1993
  • Richard M. Paget Research Professor, 1989-1990
  • J.L. Kellogg Research Professor, 1984-1989
  • Northwestern University Doctoral Fellowship, 1974-1977

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Do Accelerators Improve Startup Success Rates?

Accelerator programs boost startup performance across the board, but maximizing that success depends on program design, Wharton research shows.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 5/7/2024
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