This case is about the business, governance and leadership transformation of Merck — a 13th generation, family-owned, German multinational group operating in the pharmaceuticals, performance materials and life science industries. Established in 1668 as a pharmacy in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck ventured into the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals in 1827. Successfully overcoming several business and family challenges, it continued to grow. By 2017, Merck had a legacy of nearly 350 years of successful business operations, a presence in 66 countries and about 52,000 employees on its rolls. In 2017, Merck was led by Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp (69), an 11th generation member who was the Chairman of the executive board and the family board of E. Merck KG (the group’s holding company). With his 70th birthday approaching, Frank wanted to identify an able successor who could help him build the group for the next 100 years and take the Merck legacy forward.
The case is intended to help the participants understand the essential building blocks of a long-lasting, multi-generational family business and specifically comprehend the role played by (i) family values, (ii) strategic vision, and (iii) the owner family’s adherence to their mission in transforming a family business into a long-lasting institution.
This case is appropriate for MBA and Executive education programs, in courses like, Family Business Management, Governance and Strategy.