Ritch Sorenson

Professor, Entrepreneurship


(651) 962-4252

Minneapolis Campus
1000 LaSalle Ave
Schulze Hall 437
Minneapolis, MN 55403

B.A., Rhetoric and Public Address, Brigham Young University
M.A., Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication, Brigham Young University
Ph.D., Organizational Communication, Purdue University

See publications in UST Research Online

Ritch L. Sorenson is the Opus Chair in Family Business and the academic director of the Family Business Center.

Sorenson's primary focus is family business governance. He and his family were third-generation owners of a bank. He has conducted national surveys about family business and has developed concentrations in family business at the University of St. Thomas and at Texas Tech University. Sorenson was an associate editor and serves on the editorial board for Family Business Review. He has sponsored several conferences at St. Thomas that have resulted in journal publications, a book titled Family Business and Social Capital and another book titled The Landscape of Family Business.

Sorenson's interests include family business, leadership, conflict management, entrepreneurship and organizational communication. His research has been published in journals such as Family Business Review, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Journal of Business Venturing and Group and Organization Studies. In addition, Sorenson has provided executive education and management development to organizations throughout the United States, including Rohm & Haas, Union Carbide, Burlington Northern Railroad, Hoechst Celanese, Lever Brothers, Great Clips and the United States Air Force.

Fall 2016 Courses
Fall 2016 Courses
Crs - Sec Title Days Time Location
ENTR 349 - 01 Family Business Ownership - - - R - - - 1730 - 2115 SCH 316
Description of course Family Business Ownership : CRN: 42935
Students will learn how to identify, develop and organize family resources for business ownership and for other family initiatives such as philanthropy and community service. Family resources include family aptitudes, knowledge, experience, skills, identity and culture. Methods for organizing family initiatives include defining family mission, values, and goals; establishing guidelines/policies, and developing governance and decision-making structures, including boards of directors or advisors. Prerequisite: Junior standing
Schedule Details
Location Time Day(s)
ENTR 705 - 201 Family Business Mgmt - - - R - - - 1730 - 2115 SCH 316
Description of course Family Business Mgmt : CRN: 43526
The course explores the challenges and opportunities facing individuals and families involved in business relationships. Topics include family business dynamics, entrepreneurial influences, handling conflict, career planning, succession, strategic planning and survival skills as a son or daughter. The course uses lecture, discussion, case studies and frequent guest speakers. The major assignments involve the development of individual projects related to the organization, participation and succession issues in your family business. You must be involved in a family business relationship and are strongly encouraged to bring your parents or other significant family members to audit the course. -- Prerequisite: Standard core courses
Schedule Details
Location Time Day(s)
J-Term 2017 Courses
J-Term 2017 Courses
Crs - Sec Title Days Time Location
Spring 2017 Courses
Spring 2017 Courses
Crs - Sec Title Days Time Location
ENTR 296 - 01 Understanding Family Business M - - - - - - 1730 - 2115 SCH 314
Description of course Understanding Family Business : CRN: 22534
Values distinguish family businesses from other businesses. Cases developed at St. Thomas about regional family businesses will show how faith and family values make family businesses unique, long-lasting and profitable. In this introductory course, students will interact with business families to learn about this most prominent form of business world-wide. Family owned businesses are by far the largest employers in the world, ranging from the local mom-and-pop stores to huge world-wide businesses such as Cargill and Walmart. This is a 2-credit course.
Schedule Details
Location Time Day(s)
ENTR 449 - 01 Family Business Innov. & Entre - - - - F - - 0900 - 1300 TMH 350
Description of course Family Business Innov. & Entre : CRN: 21944
Develop governance processes that establish innovation and entrepreneurship in the family business. Owners will participate in defining desired family outcomes that align with family mission and goals; identifying and assessing entrepreneurial opportunities to achieve those outcomes; reviewing entrepreneurial opportunities in light of business and family resources and capabilities, and desired social and economic impact; and developing decision processes to assess entrepreneurial opportunities. Family members involved in the business are expected to either audit this course or to actively participate in course projects. Prerequisites: ACCT 210, FINC 300 or 321; BETH 301 and senior standing.
Schedule Details
Location Time Day(s)
Academic and Professional Positions
  • Tenured Appointment to Opus Chair in Family Enterprise, University of St. Thomas - Opus College of Business, St. Paul / Mpls (2007 - present)
  • Academic Director, University of St Thomas - Family Business Center, Minneapolis (2007 - present)
  • Director, University of St Thomas - Family Business Center, Minneapolis (2007 - 2012)
  • Tenured Professor, Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business Administration, Lubbock (2000 - 2007)
  • Tenured Appointment to Trinity Company Professor of Management and Family Business, Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business Administration, Lubbock (2006 - 2007)
  • Tenured Associate Professor, Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business Administration, Lubbock (1992 - 2000)
  • Associate Professor, Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business Administration, Lubbock (1986 - 1992)
  • Tenured Associate Professor Department of Speech Communication, Iowa State University, Ames (1985 - 1986)
  • Assistant Professor Department of Speech Communication, Iowa State University, Ames (1978 - 1985)

Professional Memberships
  • Academy of Management
  • Family Firm Institute
  • International Family Enterprise Research Academy
  • United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Professional Service
  • FERC - Family Enterprise Research Conference,
  • Family Business Review, Editor
  • USASBE - U.S. Association for Small Business Entrepreneurship,

  • Brigham, K., Sorenson, R., & Hoffman, J. (2015). When entrepreneurs have trouble with monogamy: It's their cognitive style. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Exchange,
  • Sorenson, R., & Milbrandt, J. (2015). A family affair - teaching families versus individuals: Insights gained from 24 years of family business education. Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal, (14)(1), pp. 366-384
  • Sorenson, R. (2013). How moral and social values become embedded in family firms. Journal of Management Spirituality and Religion, (10)(2), pp. 116-137
  • Spriggs, M. T., Yu, A., Deeds, D. L., & Sorenson, R. (2013). Too many cooks in the kitchen: Innovation capacity, collaborative network orientation, and performance in small family business. Family Business Review, (26)(1), pp. 32-50
  • Yu, A., Lumpkin, G. T., Sorenson, R., & Brigham, K. H. (2012). The landscape of family business outcomes: A summary and numerical taxonomy of dependent variables. Family Business Review, (25)(1), pp. 33-57
  • Sorenson, R., Smith, P. B., Peterson, M. F., Thomason, S. J., Ahmad, A. H., Akande, D., Andersen, J. A., Ayestaran, S., Bellotto, M., Bochner, S., Callan, V., Davila, C., Ekelund, B., Francois, P., Graverson, G., Harb, C., Jesuino, J., Kantas, A., Karamuskha, L., Koopman, P., Kruzela, P., Malyezzi, S., Mogaii, A., Mortazakavi, S., Munene, J., Pary, K., Peng, T. K., Punnett, B. J., Radford, M., Ropo, A., Sadhwani, S., Saiz, J., Savage, G., Szabo, E., Teparakul, P., Tirmizi, A., Tsvetanova, S., Viedge, C., Wall, C., Wang, Z. M., & Vanchuk, V. (2011). National culture as the moderator of the relationship between managers' use of guidance sources and how work events are handled. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, (42)(6), pp. 1101-1121
  • Hoover, J. D., Giambatista, R. C., Sorenson, R., & Bommer, W. H. (2010). Assessing the effectiveness of whole person learning pedagogy in skill acquisition. Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal, (9)(2), pp. 192-203
  • Distelberg, B., & Sorenson, R. (2009). Updating systems concepts in family business: A focus on values, resource flows, and adaptability. Family Business Review, (22)(1), pp. 65-81
  • Sorenson, R., & Bierman, L. (2009). Family capital, family business, and free enterprise. Family Business Review, (22)(3), pp. 193-195
  • Sorenson, R., Goodpaster, K. E., Hedberg, P. R., & Yan, J. (2009). The family point of view, family social capital, and firm performance: An exploratory test. Family Business Review, (22)(2), pp. 239-253
  • Sorenson, R., Folker, C., & Brigham, K. H. (2008). The collaborative network orientation: achieving business success through collaborative relationships. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, (32)(4), pp. 615-634
  • Hoffman, J., Hoelscher, M., & Sorenson, R. (2006). Achieving sustained competitive advantage: A family capital theory. Family Business Review, (24)(2), pp. 137-146
  • Marshall, J. P., Sorenson, R., Brigham, K., Reifman, A., & Wieling, E. (2006). The paradox for the family firm CEO: Owner age relationship to succession-related processes and plans. Journal of Business Venturing: Int'l. Entrepreneurship, New Bus. Devel. and Tech, (21)(3), pp. 348-368
  • Yan, J., & Sorenson, R. (2006). The effect of Confucian values on succession in family business. Family Business Review, (24)(3), pp. 235-250
  • Smith, B., Peterson, M., Schwartz, S., Ahmad, A., & Sorenson, R. (2005). Demographic effects on the use of vertical sources of guidance by managers in widely differing cultural contexts. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, (5), pp. 5-26
  • Yan, J., & Sorenson, R. (2003). Collective entrepreneurship in family firms: The influence of leader attitudes and behaviors. New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, (6)(2), pp. 37-51
  • Yan, J., & Sorenson, R. (2003). Socioeconomic institutions, social capital, and entrepreneurship: Are they similar between East and West. Journal of East-West Business, (10)(3), pp. 5-29
  • Sorenson, R. (2000). The contributions of leadership styles and practices to family and business success. Family Business Review, (13)(3), pp. 183-200
  • Sorenson, R. (1999). Conflict strategies used by successful family businesses. Family Business Review, (12)(4), pp. 325-339

Books and Chapters
  • Daugherty, M. S., & Sorenson, R. (2013). Family Business Landscape. Understanding the family business landscape: Key factors of family business success.
  • Sorenson, R. (2013). The Sage Handbook of Family Business. In L. Melin, M. Nordqvist, and P. Sharma (Ed.), Values in family business. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications
  • Sorenson, R. (2013). The landscape of family business. In R. L. Sorenson, A. Yu, K. H. Brigham, and Lumpkin, G.T. (Ed.), Owning family governance within the two dimensions of family business. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing
  • Sorenson, R., Yu, A., Brigham, K. H., & Lumpkin, G. T. (2013). The Landscape of Family Business. Cheltenham, UK Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing
  • Rothausen, T. J., & Sorenson, R. (2011). Social Capital in Family Business. In Sorenson, R.L. (Ed.), Leveraging family member capacity in family businesses (pp. 155-169). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing
  • Sorenson, R. (2011). Social capital and family business. Edward Elgar Publishing
  • Sorenson, R. (2011). Family Business and Social Capital. In Sorenson, R.L. (Ed.), Creating family and business social capital: A co-investigation with an anonymous daughter and granddaughter. Edward Elgar Publishing
  • Sorenson, R., Lumpkin, G. T., Yu, A., & Brigham, K. H. (2010). Society in embryo: Family relationships as the basis for social capital in family firms. Bingley, UK Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing
  • Sorenson, R., Yu, A., & Brigham, K. H. (2010). Advances in Entrepreneurship: Firm Emergence and Growth. In T. Lumpkin, A. Stewart & J. Katz (Ed.), Taking stock of one decade of research: An outcome-based framework for teaching family business (pp. 367-375). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing

Research Interests
  • Communication
  • Conflict Management
  • Family Business
  • Governance
  • Leadership

Awards and Honors
  • Best Dissertation Award, Family Firm Institute, 2012
  • Best Family Business Review Article Award (Honorable Mention, Family Firm Institute, 2013
  • Jack A. Dinos/ Cox Family Enterprise Center Best Family Business Paper Award, Academy of Management, 2009
  • Opus Distinguished Chair in Family Enterprise, Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, 2007

  • "Family social norms as capital or liability in family firms: collaborative vs competitive cultures" Family Enterprise Research Conference-University of Vermont, Burlington, Virginia, January 01, 2015
  • "Research applications from the landscape of family business" USASBE - U. S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Tampa, Florida, January 01, 2015
  • "The landscape of family business: Overview of past research and research opportunities" Family Enterprise Research Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 01, 2014
  • "Work-family conflict: A social identity perspective" Theories of Family Enterprise Conference, Alberta, Canada, May 01, 2014
  • "The landscape of family business: Practical applications for groundbreaking family business research" Family Firm Institute, San Diego, California, October 01, 2013
  • "Governance of family business programs" USASBE - USA Small Business Entrepreneurship Conference, San Francisco, California, January 01, 2013
  • "Succession planning for closely held and family-owned businesses" MNCPA Tax Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 16, 2012
  • "Too many cooks in the kitchen: Innovation capacity, collaborative network orientation, and performance in small family businesses" USASBE - U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, New Orleans, LA, January 01, 2012
  • "Determinants of satisfaction and intentions to exit for family firm owner-managers" Family Enterprise Research Conference, Cancun, Mexico, April 01, 2010
  • "Family social capital and individual commitment of resources to the family business" Ethics and Entrepreneurship Conference, Cancun, Mexico, April 01, 2010
  • "Leveraging family member capacity in family business" Family Capital, Family Business, Free Enterprise Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 01, 2009
  • "Collaborative networks: Reduce risk by being informed" Family Firm Institute, New York, New York, October 01, 2009
  • "A numerical taxonomy of family business outcomes: Findings and implications from studying ten years of dependent variables in family business research" Academy of Management, Chicago, Illinois, August 01, 2009
  • "How leadership and conflict styles relate to ethical norms in family firms" Family Enterprise Research Conference, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, April 01, 2009
  • "Both inside and outside the family: A systematic framework explaining family business survival" Academy of Management, Anaheim, California, August 01, 2008
  • "From conscience to family capital" Family Enterprise Research Conference, Milwaukee, WI, January 01, 2008
  • "Effectiveness of experiential/behavioral skill pedagogy in skill acquisition via assessment centers" Academy of Management, Atlanta, Georgia, August 01, 2006
  • "Achieving Sustained Competitive Advantage: A Family Capital Theory" Academy of Management, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 01, 2006
  • "Owner, structure, and team interactions in family firms: Effects on satisfaction, burnout, and intentions to exit" Babson-Kaufman Entrepreneurship Research Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, June 01, 2004
  • "Predictors of both growth and failure in family firms: A longitudinal analysis" Babson-Kaufmann Entrepreneurship Research Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, January 01, 2003
  • "Matching owner-manager cognitive style and organizational demands in family firms" Theories of the Family Enterprise Conference, Calgary, Canada, January 01, 2003